Plagiarism in Computing: A Student Guide

School of Computer Science & Engineering

Matches Plagiarism Addendum Version 0.5 [25Aug5]

1 What is Plagiarism?

The University guidelines define plagiarism as follows: “Plagiarism is the presentation of the thoughts or work of another as one’s own.” In addition, the guidelines explicitly state that submitting an assessment item that has already been submitted for academic credit elsewhere may be considered plagiarism and that knowingly permitting your work to be copied by another student may also be considered to be plagiarism. All this applies to computing assignments.

2 Forms of Plagiarism

In this policy, we distinguish three categories of plagiarism:

Verbatim copies.
We call character by character copies of computer source code verbatim copies. We use the same term for copies that include computationally irrelevant changes. Examples of computationally irrelevant changes are changes to white space, changes to comments, the reordering of declarations and definitions, and the renaming of program entities.
Derived work.
We call source code a derived work if it includes substantial amounts of material from one or more other authors, maybe in addition to original code. The material from other authors may be verbatim or after modification, and modification may be substantial. We still have a derived work if the source code was translated from one programming language to another.
Unauthorised teamwork.
We call the joint development of all or part of an assessment item by two or more students unauthorised teamwork if this cooperation was not permitted by the assignment specification, The fundamental difference between derived work and teamwork is that teamwork involves two or more colluding students all of which submit the jointly developed work for assessment. However, it is not necessary that the colluding students submit identical source code for assessment. As long as the submission of each of them contains a significant portion of code that was jointly developed or that was derived from jointly developed code, the students have engaged in unauthorised teamwork.

Students are free--even encouraged--to explain the subject material to each other. However, as far as assessment items are concerned, the limit of this cooperation is the exchange of program code. It is perfectly fine to explain an assignment specification to each other, but solutions (even if partial) may not be exchanged.

3 Penalties for Plagiarism

Verbatim copy with aggravating circumstances.
Submission of a verbatim copy of an assessment item produced by another person in conjunction with aggravating behaviour, such as obtaining a copy of the assessment item without the originator’s knowledge or deliberately providing false information to academic staff during the investigation of the plagiarism incident.
Penalty: Failure of course with 0FL.
Verbatim copy (second or further offence).
Submission of a verbatim copy of an assessment item produced by another person in conjunction with either a previous offence in the same course or an entry in the School Plagiarism Register for a serious offence.
Penalty: Negative marks of the value of the assessment item.
Verbatim copy (first offence).
Submission of a verbatim copy of an assessment item produced by another person.
Penalty: Zero marks for the assessment item.
Derived work with aggravating circumstances.
Submission of a derived work in conjunction with aggravating behaviour, such as obtaining a copy of the assessment item without the originators knowledge or deliberately providing false information to academic staff during the investigation of the plagiarism incident.
Penalty: Negative marks of the value of the assessment item.
Derived work (second or further offence).
Submission of a derived work, and there was either a previous offence in the same course or there exists an entry in the School Plagiarism Register for a serious offence.
Penalty: Negative marks of half the value of the assessment item.
Derived work (first offence).
Submission of a derived work.
Penalty: Zero marks for the derived portion of the assessment item.
Knowingly permitting work to be copied or imitated.
Providing an assessment item in full or part to another student to copy, imitate, or produce a derived work.
Penalty: Awarded marks are halved.
Unauthorised teamwork (second and further offence).
Submission of an assessment item produced by unauthorised teamwork, and there was either a previous offence in the same course or there exists an entry in the School Plagiarism Register for a serious offence.
Penalty: Zero marks for the assessment item.
Unauthorised teamwork (first offence).
Submission of an assessment item produced by unauthorised teamwork.
Penalty: Awarded marks are equally divided among all involved students.
Failure to appear to an interview.
Students are required to assist the lecturer in determining the extent and nature of any plagiarism. In particular, they need to attend an interview if this is requested by the lecturer.
Penalty: Negative marks of half the value of the assessment item.

Academic staff can at their discretion reduce a penalty or grant supplementary assessment if they believe that extenuating circumstances apply. All Level 3 offence will be recorded in the plagiarism register, which allows the Head of School and FSEO to monitor that penalties are only reduced where appropriately justified by extenuating circumstances.

4 Feedback and Appeals Process

Before you can receive any penalty for plagiarism, the lecturer has to ask your opinion on the case. If you disagree with the lecturer’s assessment of the situation, explain your view as clearly as you can and try to provide evidence for all of your claims. If a conflict cannot be resolved with the lecturer, turn to the School’s grievance officer. Further escalation of a grievance case is to the Head of School or FSEO as per University plagiarism guidelines.

5 School Plagiarism Register

The School Office will maintain a register of all plagiarism incidents. To guarantee transparency, students can request to see their personal entry in the register. Staff has access to the register on the same basis as they have access to student transcripts. The School Office forwards entries to the Central Plagiarism Register as required by the University plagiarism guidelines.