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What is academic integrity?

Academic integrity is ultimately about making sure you are conducting yourself honestly in every assessment you compete at university. Its about showing accuracy, honestly and acknowledging the work of others presented within your own assessment.

The European Network for Academic Integrity define academic integrity as “the compliance with ethical and professional principles, standards, practices and consistency system of values, that services as guidance for making decisions and taking actions in education, research and scholarship”.

You can demonstrate academic integrity through the creation of your own original work that illustrates your own critical thinking alongside making sure you reference any ideas which aren’t new that you include in your assessment. Academic integrity also includes not doing anything dishonest in exams or non-written assessments.

Demonstrating academic integrity ensures that you are being recognised and awarded the grades and ultimately the degree that reflects your own knowledge and understanding, maintaining the academic standards of the University. All students at Coventry University Group are expected to maintain high levels of academic integrity throughout their course and a big part of this is the avoidance of academic misconduct.

Academic Misconduct

A breach of academic integrity is described as academic misconduct which essentially means a student trying to gain an unfair advantage in an assessment (coursework or exam – including online exams) through dishonest means that go against the principles of academic integrity.

Breaches of academic integrity can include actions such as: 

  • Copying from other candidates 
  • Collusion (working together to complete an assignment when it should be done individually)  
  • Impersonation (where someone pretends to be a student to take an examination) 
  • Plagiarism (presenting the work of other people as if it was your original work) 
  • Falsification of data in projects or research for assessed work 
  • Self-plagiarism (where you use your own previously submitted work for a different assignment submission) 
  • Contract Cheating (this is where a student pays for someone to complete their assignment, often using companies known as essay mills to do so) 

The consequences of academic misconduct

 To commit academic misconduct means you are not demonstrating academic integrity within your work and without checks in place could mean students are awarded a degree they haven’t earnt fairly. This threatens the reputation of the UK education system and lowers the value of all qualifications. It can mean that graduates start work without the expected skills, with potential risks to the public and the graduate.  

Whilst it’s easy to assume that the main consequences of academic misconduct can relate to your grades and overall degree, there can be more consequences that impact your life outside of university.

Academic consequences can include:

  • Having to resit an assessment or exam
  • Marks being capped at 40% affecting your overall degree classification
  • Whole modules being given a mark of zero
  • Temporary withdrawal from the university
  • Permanent exclusion from the university

Other consequences can include:

  • Blackmail from essay writing services (essay mills) threatening to reveal that you used their service to the university if you don’t pay them large sums of money – this has happened to students at Coventry University
  • Essay writing services/companies may also sell your data
  • Not getting a reference from your academic team

Essay writing companies and services are known to target students and to try and pressurise them into using the service. If you are contacted by a service, company or person offering to complete your assessments for you, avoid engaging in conversation and report the contact (with screenshots of any messages) to integritythreats@coventry.ac.uk

Support for Academic Writing

The best way to maintain academic integrity and to avoid allegations and instances of academic misconduct, is to develop good academic practice which is expected of all students at Coventry University Group. The University offer lots of support to help students develop their own academic writing skills so you feel confident enough to complete your academic work in line with the principles of academic integrity.

 

The Centre for Academic Writing (CAW)

The Centre for Academic Writing (CAW) provide students with individualised advice and guidance on assignment writing and academic writing genres such as essays, reports, dissertations, theses, and exam papers. Student support is focused on topics ranging from how to organise an academic argument to how to improve academic style and sentence structure;

 

Library

The Library has a team of Academic Liaison Librarians who offer both class teaching on information skills, workshops on topics like referencing and also 1-1 support to students. Each course has an assigned Librarian who can help with:

  • Using Locate to search for books
  • Using databases to search for journal articles and specialist information
  • Advanced searching techniques
  • Evaluating information and choosing the best resources for your coursework 
  • Academic integrity including referencing and reference management tools, such as RefWorks and EndNote 

 

Sigma

Did you know University offers free, professional support for mathematics and writing?

"Sigma provides free mathematics and statistics support for all Coventry University students and staff. This support comes in a variety of forms listed below."

 

Centre for research capability and development

For postgraduate research students, the University’s Centre for Research Capability & Development “provide training and resources for all levels of the research community”.

Extenuating Circumstances

We know that students can face challenging situations whilst at university and completing their assessments and that this can lead to making decisions about an assessment that they wouldn’t usually make. Whilst there is an understanding as to why this happens, this is still dealt with as a breach of the university’s academic integrity and addressed through the academic misconduct process.

The university have different options and support available to students facing difficulties in the lead up to their assessments so they don’t have to consider breaching the academic regulations.

Extensions and deferrals (if approved) allow students more time to complete their assessment(s). Read more about extensions and deferrals and how the Students’ Union Advice Centre can help you with these.

The university’s health and wellbeing team also have specialist teams to help students facing different issues. Find the details of your relevant support service below:

If you aren’t sure of the best support or option to help you with a problem you’re facing, you can contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre who can provide further advice and guidance.

If you're accused of academic misconduct

If you a receive a letter alleging you have committed academic misconduct, the letter will encourage you to contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre and you can do this in 3 simple steps: 

  • Go to our online enquiry form
  • Complete this form and attach the following to your enquiry form: 
  1. Meeting invite letter 
  2. Any evidence sent to you with the invite (such as your Turnitin Report) 
    1. Wait for a response from the Students’ Union Advice Centre, which will usually be within 3 working days 

When SUAC get in touch, you can expect to receive the following type of support: 

  • An explanation of the academic misconduct process 
    • An explanation of why your work has been accused of academic misconduct  
    • Advice on how to prepare a response to present in the meeting, including any relevant evidence that can support your case 
  • Review any pre-prepared notes you wish to use in the meeting 
  • Where there is availability, an advisor will be able to attend the meeting to support you (if the service is too busy, you will still get tailored advice and guidance about how to prepare for your meeting) 
  • In certain circumstances, an advisor can present your case to the University, however this must: 
  1. Be agreed with the advisor in advance of the meeting 
  2. Be communicated to the University 24 hours prior to the meeting  

(Please be aware there will still be instances in which you will have to contribute to the meeting) 

  • After the meeting, the advisor will ensure you understand the outcome and can also support with appealing the outcome where appropriate. 
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