Academic honesty and plagiarism

Plagiarism is a growing problem in all sectors of education, and the number of reported cases in UK universities has risen dramatically in recent years. It is still the case that students can fail their programme, be expelled from University, or even be prevented from pursuing a career in one of the professions such as Law, Medicine and Teaching, all of which regard plagiarism as a serious breach of professional ethics.

Increasingly, students accused of plagiarising claim to be unaware that what they are doing is wrong, and to have insufficient knowledge about the need to reference the work of others. In some cases this appears to be true.

Most universities now adopt a holistic approach to the issue, encouraging staff to take a more active role in discussing 'academic honesty' or 'academic integrity' with their students, whilst also taking disciplinary action in serious cases. The majority of UK universities are also piloting or have implemented electronic submission of assessed work and anti-plagiarism software 'Turnitin'.

All Colleges at Exeter have at least one Academic Misconduct Officer to provide immediate support and guidance to colleagues and to attend plagiarism hearings. The Student Academic Skills Development team in Education Quality and Enhancement has developed an online resource about Understanding Plagiarism, which students should be encouraged to use in order to clarify the differences between academic honesty and plagiarism.

These pages are designed to provide an introduction for staff to the key issues on plagiarism and how to promote academic honesty through teaching, learning and assessment.