Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity refers to the Universities policy on suspected academic misconduct. There are two stages to the Academic Integrity process within the University: the preliminary Interview/Discussion stage and the Panel stage. Normally students will only need to attend the first stage. Only the most severe or complex cases will progress to the second stage. The process is slightly different for exam misconduct.

How can the Students’ Union support me?

We know that being suspected of academic misconduct can be hard for some students so we are able to support you in understanding the process you are going through, the questions you might be asked so you feel prepared, and we may be able to come to the Interview and Panel with you so you have the support you need.

We get booked up very quickly, so if you would like support, we suggest you email us as soon as possible and title your email Academic Integrity Interview or Panel: ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk

Why have I been accused of academic misconduct?

For coursework submissions: The marker of your work has identified a cause of concern, most commonly that you may not have referenced or paraphrased correctly. The marker and your department’s ‘Academic Integrity Officer’ will want to discuss their concerns with you and give you the chance to explain how you put your work together. 

Stage 1: Academic Integrity Interview/Discussion

This meeting is the first stage in the Academic Integrity process. This discussion is an opportunity for the University to raise the areas of concern with you, and equally, for you to explain how you put your piece of work together. You can be accompanied by a friend or member of the Students’ Union Advice team if you wish.

They may ask you questions such as your understanding of academic misconduct, how you put your work together, and if you have any drafts of your work that you can show to the panel.

How can I prepare for the interview?

Read the University Regulations for Academic Integrity which can be found on the OSCAR webpages of the University website here. These Regulations explain the different stages of the process and what the outcomes of the interview can be.

You may wish to consider the following, in order to prepare you:

  • Read through your TurnitIn report and try to identify where the problem might be
  • Look at the Academic Skills and Development (Formerly SPLASH) webpage to help you understand more about plagiarism and how to avoid it – https://www.surrey.ac.uk/academic-skills-and-development ​We would strongly advise that you make an appointment with them before your interview to see where you have gone wrong, this will help you explain your work in the interview.
  • Look back at sources you used and gather any notes/draft versions you have for the piece of work to be discussed as you may be asked to explain how you produced your work. Having evidence of how you put the work together will help you
  • If you have had ‘special circumstances’ at the time of your submission, you will need to submit evidence for this. The evidence needed is defined in the Regulations. If you are unsure if you have ‘special circumstances’ then our advisors are happy to discuss this with you.

Remember that you have to be honest with the University. Dishonesty could lead to further action such as a disciplinary with the University.

What are ‘Special Circumstances’?

Special Circumstances are proven circumstances which indicate that at the time of submission you were unable to make a rational decision in relation to completing or submitting the work. You must have evidence to demonstrate your special circumstances, usually from a medical professional. The evidence must say the dates that you were impacted and, indicate that you were impacted at the time of submission or when producing the work.

If your special circumstances are upheld, then your assessment will be void and you will be given a new attempt. 

What happens in the interview?

The interview is an informal chat, via teams, with someone from the module team and Academic Integrity Officers from the University. You may also have a secretary taking notes, but sometimes the AIO will take the notes themselves. You can bring a friend, someone from the SU or someone you trust to the meeting.  

The academics will ask you a series of questions relating to your work including your understanding of plagiarism and how you put the work together. If you have drafts or notes, make electronic copies and send to the interviewers so they can see the work. This helps explain how you put the work together. You may be asked the following questions:

  • Do you accept or deny the allegations?
  • What is your understanding of plagiarism/paraphrasing/collusion?
  • How did you produce this work? How did you put this work together?
  • Do you know how the errors in your work might have happened?

Once all the questions have been answered, the University will ask you to leave the Teams chat. This gives them time to decide on the outcome.

Normally, you will receive the outcome straight away and be invited back into the chat where they will give you the outcome. In complex collusion cases, it might take longer but they will let you know this. 

What is the outcome of an interview?

Following the interview/discussion, academics can reach one of these outcomes. Normally, students will find that they are either given ‘poor academic practise’ or ‘academic misconduct’. Very few cases will be referred to the second stage of the process.

  • There is no case of misconduct and so your work is marked as normal
  • Your work contains areas of poor academic practice but can be marked as normal – it is likely that you will receive recommendations to seek support with your academic writing alongside this. There will ne no penalty applied with this outcome.
  • That the academics decide that your work is a result of academic misconduct and there is no evidence of special circumstances you will be given a penalty. Usually, if this is your first instance of academic misconduct then your work will be awarded zero and your module capped at the pass mark. If this means that you fail the module overall, you will be given the chance to retake the assessment.
  • That the academics decide that your work is a result of academic misconduct and there is valid evidence of special circumstances you will not be given a penalty. Instead your attempt will be void and you will be given a new attempt in the next assessment window (usually August)
  • A referral to an Academic Misconduct Panel (AMP). Cases will only go to an Academic Misconduct Panel if they are of the highest severity cases (such as impersonation or purchasing an essay), if this is your third offense of academic miscondut, or if the case is particularly complex. 

If you are being asked to attend an interview, and this is your second or third allegation of academic misconduct, we would strongly advise that you get in touch with our team for more guidance and advice.

Stage 2: Academic Misconduct Panel

As mentioned, cases will only go to an Academic Misconduct Panel if they are of the highest severity cases (such as impersonation or purchasing an essay), if the case is particularly complex or if this is a third offense. If you have been invited to an Academic Misconduct Panel (AMP), then you should have already been to your interview and know what the issues within your work might be. When you receive your invitation letter, they will also send you the interview notes. You should check that these are an accurate reflection of the interview discussion. 

The panel is the second stage of the Academic Misconduct process within the University. You will be emailed a formal invitation to your panel with at least 5 days notice. This will say the time, date, and teams link to the panel and who will be sitting on your panel. 

If you are presenting evidence of special circumstances, or any drafts/notes as evidence, these should be submitted to the secretary at least two days before the panel.

What can I expect in the panel?

The panel is made up of three AIOs (Academic Integrity Officers) and there will also be a secretary to the panel to take notes. The AIOs will ask you similar questions to the interview.

If you have any concerns about the panel membership or see a potential conflict of interest or bias, you should raise this now.

You can be accompanied by a friend or member of the Students’ Union Advice team if you wish.

Below is an outline of what you can expect at your panel, it is very similar to the interview but they may ask you some more in-depth questions about your work:

  • The panel will introduce themselves to you, including the secretary to the panel
  • The panel will ask you questions similar to those you were asked in your interview and will be looking to understand how you put your work together or what happened in your examination
  • When the panel has no further questions, you will be asked to wait outside whilst they discuss your case
  • You will be asked if you have any special circumstances to present to the panel
  • You will then be asked to return to the room once a decision has been made – you will be informed of the outcome verbally on the day
  • Following the panel, you will receive written confirmation of the outcome via your University email address

How can I prepare for the panel?

You can prepare in a very similar way to the interview – begin by reading the Regulations if you have not already. These can be found here.

You may wish to consider the following, in order to prepare you:

  • Read through your TurnitIn report and try to think of where the problem might be
  • Look at the Academic Skills and Development (Formerly SPLASH) webpage to help you understand more about plagiarism and how to avoid it – https://www.surrey.ac.uk/academic-skills-and-development ​You may wish to make an appointment with them before your interview to see where you have gone wrong
  • Look back at sources you used and gather any notes/draft versions you have for the piece of work to be discussed as you may be asked to explain how you produced your work. Having evidence of how you put the work together will help you. 
  • If you have had ‘special circumstances’ at the time of your submission, you will need to gather evidence for this. The evidence needed is defined in the regulation
  • If it helps you feel more confident, you can prepare a statement to read to the panel

Remember that you have to be honest with the University. Dishonesty could lead to further action such as a disciplinary with the University.

What are the outcomes of a panel?

The panel can reach the following conclusions:

  • There is no case of academic misconduct and so your work is marked as normal.
  • Your work contains areas of poor academic practice but can be marked as normal – it is likely that you will receive recommendations to seek support with your academic writing alongside this.
  • That the academics decide that your work is a result of academic misconduct and there is no evidence of special circumstances you will be given a penalty. First offense minor cases will usually be awarded zero for the work and module capped at the pass mark, however the system is incremental so if this is a serious offense or a second offense the penalties are more severe. If the case is seen to be of the highest severity, this can include termination of your studies. 
  • That the academics decide that your work is a result of academic misconduct and there is valid evidence of special circumstances you will not be given a penalty. Instead your attempt will be void and you will be given a new attempt in the next assessment window (usually August).

You can appeal the outcome of an Academic Integrity Interview or an Academic Misconduct Panel, if you have valid grounds to do so. If you’d like to know more about this, please email us so that we can give you the best information for your circumstances.