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International Students, Academic Writing and Plagiarism Conference

Abstract: Fiona Duggan "Institutional responses to student plagiarism in UK HEI’s – interim findings from the AMBeR project"

In recent years student plagiarism in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) has been the subject of much internal scrutiny. Within the sector there has been some concern that the qualities of fairness, consistency and transparency embodied in many institutional codes are not always upheld when sanctions for student plagiarism are imposed. To date, however, no sector-wide assessment of the available penalties for student plagiarism and the sanctions imposed has been conducted that might determine whether these concerns are justifiable. In a keynote address at the 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, hosted by the JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service, Baroness Deech, the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, called for such an assessment. The JISC-funded Academic Misconduct Benchmarking Research (AMBeR) project reported here, commenced in late 2006 with a desktop study of academic misconduct regulations currently applicable in UK HEI’s. The study achieved a response rate in excess of 90%, and found that a range of 25 penalties were available throughout the sector. The majority of regulations surveyed could be categorised into one of three distinct groupings i.e. where the full range of penalties were applicable in any given situation, where penalties are applied in accordance with strictly defined criteria and where the criteria for determining appropriate penalties include some graduation but are less strictly defined than the previous grouping. These initial findings call into question the possibility of a uniform response to student plagiarism within the sector. The second phase of the project, a survey of all UK HEI’s identifying the number and range of penalties applied in 2005/2006, which is currently underway, will further inform this.

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