Good Academic Practice
It is the responsibility of all students to familiarise themselves with the University’s Good Academic Practice policy, in order to avoid the possibility of being accused of academic misconduct. All new students have to complete the online Training in Good Academic Practice course as a condition of matriculation.
In computer science and information technology we are particularly interested in developing students who use resources effectively and who can work in collaborative teams. It is therefore crucially important for students to understand the various categories of activities that are considered academic misconduct and therefore prohibited.
Here are some typical, but non-exhaustive, examples of academic misconduct relevant to computer science and information technology:
- use in an essay of unacknowledged material from a journal, paper, book or web page, even if the source is mentioned in the bibliography, and even if the material is slightly paraphrased
- inclusion in coursework program code of unacknowledged code from another student or online sources
- asking, paying or coercing others to do work for you
- supplying code to another student, either directly or by posting on a website (public or private)
- presentation of output that is claimed to be the output from some program, when it is not
See also: GAP briefing slides.
Ensuring Good Academic Practice
You will find the following precautions useful:
- Do, in essays and project reports, where published material is used, take care:
- to list in the references all material from which you extract significant phrases or even ideas;
- to cite sources at the point where the material is used;
- to surround with quotation marks all significant phrases taken from such material;
- to display, indented both left and right, all extracts longer than one line.
- Do, in practical and project work, indicate explicitly the extent of any code not written by you, and any collaboration with other students, e.g.
- “Code for the Heap class was developed in collaboration with David Blair.”
- “The idea of using heaps rather than lists to represent the data was developed in discussion with Lisa Jones and Sam Morgan.”
- “The implementation of the Bounce algorithm was provided by Andrea Singh; I could not get my own implementation to work.”
- “As required, I collaborated on this practical with John Jones and Jane James; my contribution was mainly in sections 2 and 5, with minor contributions elsewhere. See Section 7 of our joint report for details.”
- “I used an open source implementation of Quick Sort; the source URL is given in the header comments in Sort.java.”
- Do discuss difficulties in completing coursework on time with your tutor, a demonstrator or the lecturer rather than succumbing to the temptation to use or copy others’ work to ensure handing something in on time.
- Do ensure that your own coursework is secure from being read or copied by other students; e.g. by making your directories inaccessible to others. Where collaborative practical work or projects are required, special arrangements will be made.
- Do seek help immediately from CAPOD or ELT if you have problems with expressing yourself in English (and are thus tempted to use others’ words).
- Don’t send copies of your coursework to others by e-mail or any other medium.
- Don’t ask or answer questions on websites such as “How do I do this practical?”.
Copying of a single short phrase from a book is hardly an example of plagiarism, but copying the text of a paragraph is (without acknowledgment) such an example. If in doubt, err on the safe side and quote clearly. The golden rule is that it must be completely obvious to the reader what is your work and what is due to others.
Detecting and Dealing With Academic Misconduct
The School uses various plagiarism detection software, including Urkund, to check coursework submissions against material on the web and previous submissions by other students at this and other institutions. The School may also use other automatic methods to detect potential misconduct. Decisions as to whether to proceed with any identified potential cases will be based on academic judgement.
The University’s Good Academic Practice policy describes the process for dealing with suspected academic misconduct.
In general, the School does not specify any particular academic referencing style, so long as a sensible style is chosen and used consistently. Individual coursework descriptions may give more specific requirements.
Students should contact their lecturer or project supervisor about publishing their work after the final module grades have been published following the relevant Module Board in January, June or September. In project/dissertation modules, students are normally asked to include a declaration granting the School the right to publish the final report on the web.
The university’s Policy on Intellectual Property Rights provides further details.