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Online Undergraduate Handbook

Collusion

Collusion is when a student or students collaborate with another student or students, as an individual or group to gain a mark or grade to which they are not entitled. Students who allow another student to copy their work are also committing collusion and both the copier and the provider of the work are liable to be penalised. Where it is proved, collusion will be subject to penalties similar to those for plagiarism.

On the other hand, collaboration is a perfectly legitimate academic activity in which students are required to work in groups as part of their programme of research or in the preparation of projects and similar assignments. If you are asked to carry out such groupwork and to collaborate in specified activities, it will always be made clear how your individual input to the joint work is to be assessed and graded. Sometimes, for example, all members of a team may receive the same mark for a joint piece of work, whereas on other occasions team members will receive individual marks that reflect their individual input. If it is not clear on what basis your work is to be assessed, to avoid any risk of unwitting collusion you should always ask for clarification before submitting any assignment.

Avoiding collusion

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 lectureor workshop

·        discussing questions set for a tutorial or workshop (but nots imply giving the answers to a colleague).

In such cases, students can help each other to understand the material for that course and to work effectively on 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 up 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 specified.

b) Avoiding collusion on individual assessments

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 should consult the relevant 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 to 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 or 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 fellow student who is experiencing difficulties, but it may be acceptable to work through an example provided in a textbook, lecture, workshop or tutorial whichwould 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 you for 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