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Online Undergraduate Handbook

Avoiding Collusion and Group Work

Throughout your time at the University we encourage you to co-operate and to work with your colleagues.  This might include:

·         Sharing textbooks on loan from the library

·         Helping a colleague to understand something covered in a lecture or workshop

·         Discussing questions set for a tutorial or workshop (this does not imply giving the answers to a friend)

In such cases students can help each other to understand the material for that course and to work effectively preparing for classes and non-assessed work.  Such activities should be mutual so that each student gains from these informal interactions and one student does not free ride on the efforts of others.

However it is important to distinguish between such forms of co-operation and (a) formal requirements to produce group work and (b) collusion on work (usually assessed coursework) where collusion covers working with or for others in a way that is inappropriate to the requirements of the assignment.

(a)    Formal Group Work

On some courses we require you formally to work with group members to complete an assignment, usually including the submission of a report produced jointly by group members.  In such cases we expect you to divide tasks between yourselves, to share information in full and to collaborate on the structure and argument of the report.  The aim here is to enable you to develop your team working skills.  Where group work is required, this is always made clear in the assignment brief.

 

(b)   Avoiding Collusion on Individual Assignments

In other cases, however, (and unless otherwise specified) you are expected to complete an assignment on an individual basis.  It is very important to avoid collusion with your colleagues and you should be careful about when and how you work with others.  Some general guidelines are provided below.  If you have any questions about what levels of co-operation might be acceptable for a particular piece of assessed work, you could consult your Course Co-ordinator.

 

It is normally not acceptable to:

·         Discuss plans for essays, the general argument you will make, the evidence you will use and the structure of the report with another student.

·         Show your completed (or draft) report or essay to another student.

·         Read the completed (or draft) report or essay of another student.

·         Share spreadsheets, calculations, workings, graphs or other exhibits etc with another student or ask for a copy of these from a fellow student.  Where such work is required, you should complete it independently.

·         Check someone else’s work.

It is normally acceptable to:

·         Co-operate on finding information.  If there are lots of potential sources of information to be investigated, you can divide these between a small number of students and then share the information you have found.  This may be an effective way to identify useful sources and to organise sharing access to books and articles.  However, you must read the sources yourself and should not share any notes that you have made.

 

·         Provide a fellow student with assistance in understanding some general principle that underlies the assignment.  For example, on calculative questions, you should not give a copy of your answer or workings to a fell student who is experiencing difficulties, but it may be acceptable to work through an example provided in a textbook, lecture, workshop or tutorial which would allow them to gain a better understanding of the task they have been set and thus allow them to complete that task on their own.

 

If other students ask for your help you should ensure that you do not provide them with any assistance that might be interpreted as possible collusion.  If you allow another student access to your work and it is then plagiarised (by them or by anyone else) then you too are regarded as being party to that plagiarism, whether you knew about it or not, and you risk being penalised.  So, do not pass your work on to others.  If you are asked by another student for help that you do not think you should provide, please suggest that they consult the member of staff responsible for the assignment.