Breaches of Regulations
The purpose of assessment is to ensure that all students have achieved the appropriate level of expertise in relation to their chosen programme of study. The University has to ensure that how students are assessed, be it written exams, essays, assignments, projects, dissertations, practicals, lab tests etc is conducted fairly so that each student has an equal opportunity to demonstrate their learning to the best of their ability.
Where it is found that a student tries to gain an unfair advantage over others by various prohibited means there can be serious consequences. This is called ‘academic misconduct’.
All forms of unfair practices such as ‘cheating’ and ‘plagiarism’ are considered ‘academic misconduct’ and there is a whole raft of procedures in place when it is suspected that a student may have tried to do this
If you're having difficulty with your assessments you should contact academic staff for guidance. We strongly advise students not to resort to breaking the regulations as there could be serious consequences as a result.
What is Plagiarism?
Whether it’s your aunty or your best friend, someone you know on social media has likely shared the inspirational quote: “you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge” – coined by the famous (or infamous) Dr. Phil. Whether you like the guy or not, these are wise words to live by.
Follow this logic when it comes to plagiarism and always remember; “you can’t avoid something if you don’t know what it is!”
You might spend an awful lot of time and put lots of energy into an assignment. You can learn loads and be quite proud of your work. What a shame it would be to fail it on the basis of plagiarism! And what a shock it would be if you didn’t even realise you had plagiarised!
So What Is It Then, AYE?
You can find all the details of the TU Dublin stance on plagiarism in the General Assessment Regulations, found here.
To summarise, it is defined as:
“taking or using another person's thoughts, writings or inventions as your own.”
The Regulations specify that this can either be on purpose or by accident. That’s right, all roads can lead to a Panel of Enquiry - you can accidentally plagiarise! For this reason, we won’t refer to plagiarism as ‘accidental’ or ‘intentional’ because it is all considered the same. And if you thought it just applied to written work – you’re wrong. It applies to artistic practice and demonstrations too. All forms of academic work can be plagiarised. Keep reading for directions on how to take the alternative route!
Understanding The Importance of Referencing
Referencing allows you to refer to another person’s work in order to emphasise your own points and research. Forgetting to reference someone else’s work means that you are not giving credit where credit is due. There are various forms of referencing including quoting from the source directly or paraphrasing.
An important part of referencing is ensuring that you use the correct referencing system.
If you had a nut allergy and you went to a restaurant you’d surely read the menu carefully to avoid ordering a dish with nuts. To be extra safe you might also confirm with the server that there are no traces of nuts in your dish. Your life could be at stake! Similarly, if you’re working on an essay or project, you need to read the referencing system carefully and follow it correctly. If you are unsure of anything ask your tutor or lecturer – your grade, your summer, and at most, your qualification could be at stake!
Your Programme or School may have a specific referencing system that students must use. This should include procedures for citing sources and what qualifies as an acceptable source. Ensure that you always have a copy of this available to you and use this and not some other system that you might prefer.
REMEMBER: Don’t be fooled - if you’re writing an essay or doing a project you don’t just need to know the subject matter, you also need to know the referencing rules.
What a shame it would be to put your time and effort into a project, to learn from it, to be quite proud of it, and then to fail it due to incorrect use of referencing rules!
Quotation, Quotation, Quotation
The surest way to ‘pass another person’s thoughts, writings, or inventions as your own’ is to not use quotations when copying and pasting material word for word. Always use quotations and cite the source they came from.
Paraphrasing vs Quoting
Quoting is copying material word for word, using quotation marks, and citing the source. You should do this with literary analysis as you want to reflect on the specific words used by the author. Correct paraphrasing is writing something based on an original text in your own words. There may be a matching word here or there from the source as shared language is normal, but in general it should be your own voice and your own words. You don’t usually need to paraphrase an entire paragraph. Take small pieces of information that support your point, and always cite the source.
Tips & Tricks
- Understand the assignment: Before you begin to read any secondary material make sure that you understand the assignment and what your lecturer is asking you to do. Once you have an idea of what you want to explore or research it will be easier to focus on finding suitable secondary material which will help you to emphasise your points.
- Understand the source material: If you understand something, you will have far more freedom to select what material you need to make your point and put it in your own words. The more the essay is in your own words, the less likely it is to mirror the original text without quotations and result in plagiarism. Do this by reviewing each page or paragraph and ask yourself ‘What is this about? What is the point here? How is the writer/artist/academic making this point?’ Without looking at the original source write out your understanding of the points, then take the relevant ones for your essay or project.
- Use the correct referencing system: This is the one set out by your lecturer, in your Student Handbook or the brief for the assessment. If in doubt ask for their advice. Check it consistently throughout your work, and cross-check again before submitting.
- Reference material as you go: So, when you’re writing instead of putting everything on the page and referencing afterwards we recommend that you always note your sources as you go. This way you’ll avoid forgetting to source something, losing the tab, page, or paragraph the material came from, or citing the wrong source. This will also help when revising your work before submission. If you cannot do this for any reason, then at least keep a checklist of all you references with details of the website URL/article name/page number/paragraph and any other relevant information.
- Have your sources at the ready when you proofread: You could decide to re-word something and it’s important to have the source close by so you can quickly check back on it and ensure you are not closely mimicking the text.
- Give yourself time: If you’ve ever written an essay up to the hour of the submission deadline you’ll know how tempting it is to just copy and paste material in a rush. This increases your chances of plagiarism as you may (accidentally or on purpose) hurry and leave out quotation marks, or not cite the reference.
- Go the extra mile: let’s say you’ve read the menu carefully and you can’t see any traces of nuts in your dish, you’ve asked the server to confirm this and they do so, but you still feel uneasy. There are an awful lot of dishes on the menu, both you and the server have different first languages, and there could be hidden traces of nuts in the kitchen that result in cross contamination – what do you do then? You decide to be extra safe and ask the waiter to inform the chef of your allergy.
- Use the Academic Writing Centre: If you’ve used the correct referencing system, you’ve checked a few things you were unsure of with your lecturer, you’ve proofread it, but you’re still a bit confused or just want to be extra safe, you book a one-on-one appointment with the Academic Writing Centre and bring your work in for review. They provide some useful resources on the same online.
- You can also attend Information literacy sessions held by the Library Staff that include guidance on referencing and avoiding plagiarism.
What Is Cheating?
If you are caught copying another’s work, having notes in your pocket, writing on your hand, or with a phone on your person, this is ‘cheating’ and is another example of academic misconduct.
It is your responsibility to ensure you don’t have prohibited materials on your person during the exams. Saying you forgot to put your study notes / phone away, that it was accidental or that you were in a hurry is no excuse.
If this occurs, the Invigilator will have to report the incident to the Exams Office and you will be called before a Panel of Enquiry to explain the situation. This usually takes place within 2 weeks of the conclusion of the Exams and your results will not be issued until the matter is investigated.
Penalties for Academic Misconduct
You can find more information on TU Dublin’s procedures for suspected cases of plagiarism or other forms of unfair practice in the General Assessment Regulations:
In the case of plagiarism, when correcting your assessment if a lecturer suspects that you may have plagiarised they will have to raise the issue with the Head of School.
You will then be called to a meeting to discuss the concerns and explain the circumstances. The outcomes at this stage are as follows:
- No breach of regulations is found to have taken place.
- You have to resubmit the work in question, or submit a new piece of work and it is capped at 40%.
- The matter is not resolved and must be investigated further by a Panel of Enquiry.
The Panel of Enquiry Process
If ‘plagiarism’ or ‘cheating’ of any description is suspected you will be notified of the details of your Panel of Enquiry meeting no later than two weeks after the exams are finished.
Then, at least 5 days beforehand, you will receive details of the allegations and when and where the meeting will take place. You can respond to the allegations in writing and/or in person at the meeting and you can bring someone to attend the Panel meeting with you. This might be a friend, a family member, or someone from the Students’ Union. There are usually 3 / 4 members on the Panel, and these can include the College Director, Heads of School or nominee from a School outside your Programme.
While these meetings are serious, every effort will be made to make you feel at ease and able to explain the circumstances from your perspective and to respond to clarify any aspect of what happened.
Following on from this, when you have left the meeting the Panel will then consider all submissions and decide on an appropriate penalty. The Chair can ask if there are any previous instances of breaches in General Assessment Regulations that you may have been involved in. This will help determine the final decision made by the Panel of Enquiry.
Outcomes: Within 5 working days you’ll be notified in writing of the decision. This can range from being deemed ‘innocent’ of the allegations, to a written warning, to - in extreme cases - being expelled from the University.
Never, ever, knowingly plagiarise or cheat, it’s not worth it. You will cost yourself time, good grades, potential stress, and in extreme cases - your qualification.
Save yourself from accidental plagiarism by following the steps above. You work hard at university anyway, get the grades your knowledge and time deserve!
Link to General Assessment Regulations: https://www.dit.ie/media/qualityassuranceandacademicprogrammerecords/regulations/gar%20revised%20final%20November%2018%20for%20website%20revised%20March%202019.doc
Students’ Union Advice Service Contacts: