Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy
The purpose of this policy is to outline the approach of Alphacrucis University College (AC) to ensure its course work students, Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates, and faculty members, act with integrity in the performance of their academic work. In the context of its Christian mission, AC will implement processes and procedures to:
• promote the reputation of AC
• protect the integrity of AC awards
• educate students and faculty about the importance of ethical behaviour
This policy defines academic integrity and various forms of academic misconduct, describes the procedures for investigating allegations of academic misconduct, and outlines sanctions that will apply where allegations are upheld.
This policy applies to all delivery sites, faculty, course work students and HDR candidates.
The policy does not apply to general misconduct by students or staff which is dealt with in other policies.
AC believes that ethical research and scholarship is based on an intellectual environment where academic integrity is highly valued and vigilantly upheld. AC will make information about academic integrity available to students during orientation, in online induction, handbooks, subject outlines and other relevant teaching materials. Academic misconduct is not permitted or tolerated, and any such occurrences will be sanctioned.
The AC Academic Misconduct Register records warnings and the outcomes of any accusations of plagiarism, cheating, collusion or research misconduct. Student records on the Register will be permanently retained. Faculty will have access to this information when considering any subsequent allegations of academic integrity breaches.
Faculty academic misconduct will be recorded and will be available to the appropriate supervisor involved in reviews, appointments or subsequent allegations of misconduct.
Undertaking academic activity in an ethical and responsible way to ensure the maintenance of high academic standards; honesty and rigour in research and scholarship; and avoidance of plagiarism, cheating, collusion, or any other activity that constitutes academic misconduct.
Academic misconduct is undertaking academic activity, either deliberately or imprudently, that can result in gaining an unethical and unfair advantage over peers. It may take several forms including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating and collusion as defined below.
Examples of plagiarism include:
- submission of work in which ideas, words or other work are copied directly or paraphrased from a source, published or unpublished (for example a website, computer program, another student's essay or presentation, a book or journal article, a lecture, a performance piece), and presented as if they are the student's own, without appropriate acknowledgement of the original author;
- recycling, i.e., submission of work by a student that has already been assessed in another subject without disclosing that fact;
- A student intentionally choosing not to reference their work appropriately.
AC distinguishes between plagiarism which has occurred from negligence on the part of a faculty member, HDR candidate or student (minor) and that which is dishonest (major).
Minor plagiarism is defined as uninformed omissions of details, which are minor in nature and by themselves are unlikely to alter the student's overall grade (e.g., omissions of a limited number of referencing details or incorrect referencing details). It is acknowledged that these minor omissions and errors are more likely to occur in the student's first semester in a course, and therefore, responses should be more educative at that time. Education and formation of students are the preferred course of action.
Major plagiarism is defined as an attempt to circumvent assessment requirements by drawing on unacknowledged sources in such a way as to improve the grade, strengthen the research project or publish a piece of work. Examples may include, but is not limited to:
- copying without acknowledging source,
- minimal paraphrasing that retains the original content of the source without acknowledgement,
- self-plagiarism without acknowledgement,
- and/or intentionally incorrect acknowledgement of the source/s.
Cheating occurs before, during or after an assessment or examination when a student seeks to obtain an unfair advantage or assist another student to do so. It includes, but is not limited to:
- bringing items into an examination that are not permitted such as a textbook, notebook, dictionary, calculator, computer, notes, manuscript, bag, mobile phone or other materials or device or means of special assistance, except those items specifically authorised for the examination by the lecturer who set the examination. Note: valuable items, such as small purses and wallets, may be brought into the examination room but must be left on the floor adjacent to the student’s desk for the duration of the examination; the examination supervisor may inspect such items;
- colluding with others either in the examination venue or outside the venue including by electronic means;
- deliberately viewing other students work in an examination, or in other circumstances, without their permission;
- fabricating or falsifying data or inventing references;
- submitting the same work or recycling work without prior permission of the subject coordinator or research supervisor.
Contract cheating involves a faculty member, HDR candidate or student contracting a third party – paid or unpaid – to prepare or contribute to a research or assessment task or part of assessable work on their behalf. It may also involve the person acquiring or commissioning for services related to the preparation of assessable work with the intention to cheat, misrepresent and/or plagiarise.
A third party may include:
- a friend;
- a family member;
- a fellow student;
- a staff member; or
- commercial services, such as:
- a tutoring company;
- a document sharing website;
- an editing service; or
- an assignment writing service, also known as ’ghost writing'.
Solicitation occurs when an individual offers, encourages, induces or advertises for a faculty member, HDR candidate or student to contract, commission, pay, procure, or complete on their behalf, research or assessment tasks and items that are likely to result in their use for the purpose of cheating, misrepresentation and/or plagiarism.
Collusion, unlike collaboration, which encompasses positive co-learning, is when two or more candidates/students, or a candidate/student and any other person(s), work together on individual (not group work) assessable work with intent to cheat, plagiarise or engage in academic misconduct.
Generative Artificial Intelligence
In circumstance where the use of generative artificial intelligence (GAI) tools is authorised in the assessment, correct citation of the source is required, as with expected scholarly practice in relation to acknowledgement of authorship.
Other Academic Misconduct
Other forms of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to:
- tampering, or attempting to tamper, with research work, examination papers, class work, grades, class records, or other student documentation;
- acquiring, or attempting to acquire, possessing, or distributing examination materials or information without the approval of the lecturer;
- impersonating another candidate/student, or arranging for anyone to impersonate a candidate/student, in any examination or other assessment task;
- altering group assessment work that has been agreed as final by all participating students prior to submission without the collaborating students' consent;
- use of recorded lectures (audio and/or visual), Powerpoints, or other class notes in a way that infringes another person's privacy or intellectual property rights - for example, by publishing or distributing a recording without permission from the lecturer;
- offering or accepting bribes (money or sexual or other favours) e.g. for admission or for grades or research results;
- fabrication, falsification and misrepresentation of information (including research data and source material);
- not meeting required research standards, including conducting research without ethics approval or conducting research in an unethical manner.
Although moral and legal copyright in relation to faculty/HDR candidate/student assessment or research materials is vested in that person as the author, the faculty member/candidate/student, provides an implied consent to AC which authorises:
- reproduction and storage of electronic material which they may author and submit as part of their scholarly work; and
- scanning this material for purposes of detecting, through software processing (e.g., Turnitin) or other methods, any plagiarised material used in assignments.
Any person may report a complaint of academic misconduct by a faculty member, student or HDR candidate to the relevant lecturer, subject coordinator or Program Director, Head of School or relevant supervisor.
Disciplinary action for academic misconduct will be taken in accordance with the following principles:
- allegations will be investigated promptly;
- processes will be transparent and in accordance with procedural fairness;
- sanctions will be appropriate and proportionate;
- judgements of intentionality will be taken into account in determining any sanction that might be applied;
- confidentiality will be respected and maintained by all parties within the constraints of allegation, investigation and appeal processes, subject to any legal requirements for disclosure;
- anyone who is the subject of an academic misconduct allegation has the opportunity to respond and/or appeal decisions, according to the Complaint and Grievance Resolution Policy;
- staff involved in academic misconduct or appeals processes will disclose actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest as soon as they become aware of them.
- academic misconduct of staff will be escalated from the faculty member’s manager to AC’s Vice President Academic for judgement and disciplinary action.
Responsible for implementation
Chair, Learning and Teaching Committee
All faculty, students and HDR candidates
GAI Statement (AC Academic Integrity Framework)
National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC):
- Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018)
- Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
- National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research
Academic Integrity and Misconduct Procedure
Faculty are encouraged to minimise opportunities for the occurrence of academic misconduct within the candidate/student body through enhancement and practical implementation of academic integrity. A range of coordinated strategies may include:
- advising candidates/students at the time of enrolment of the details of this policy and that submission of assignments is normally in electronic form;
- use of similarity or text matching detection software in all subjects;
- explicitly referring to plagiarism and collusion at key stages in courses;
- providing candidates/students with opportunities in which to practise writing and referencing skills;
- providing prompt and constructive feedback to assignments and examinations;
- explaining the aims and purposes of assessment tasks;
- providing examples of sound and poor practice;
- monitoring time pressures and timetabling that may adversely affect completion and submission of assignments;
- mixing the assessment tasks of subjects to minimise risk of plagiarism, contract cheating and collusion and foster positive values and behaviour among students;
- requiring students to provide a disclaimer appended to their assignments which affirms that, where otherwise acknowledged, the material submitted in the assignments is their own.
- Ensuring that the appropriate ethics applications are approved prior to conducting research..
Faculty are encouraged to conduct research in accordance with both national frameworks governing ethical research, especially where human subjects are involved. This includes the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. As with HDR candidates, primary data gathered during faculty research projects should be stored in an AC-provided secure repository for a minimum of five years.
Factors to be considered
While this policy outlines sanctions for different offences, the list of factors is not all-inclusive; other factors may also be relevant. Academic staff will exercise their professional judgement as to whether the sanctions fit the particular case (refer to the AI Framework matrix). Sometimes a more lenient or more severe penalty may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
Sanctions for faculty academic misconduct will take account of the fact that faculty are expected to have learned ethical conduct earlier during their academic journey and be models of academic probity in their practice.
- seriousness of the offence;
- degree of premeditation;
- impact on other HDR candidates/students/ and other stakeholders;
- extent to which the offence adversely impacts the assessment process;
- repeat offence;
- extent of assignment involving misconduct.
- first year student;
- offence unintentional or spontaneous;
- role played by the offender if others involved;
- offender under duress, but not sufficient to constitute a defence;
- degree of remorse and cooperation shown;
- willingness to seek assistance to avoid further offences.
Academic Misconduct Sanctions
Minor (initial)/Moderate (repeated):
- a requirement for the student/HDR candidate to receive counselling or tutoring
- informal warning
- formal warning recorded on student record
- the student/candidate receives 0% to 50% of mark, or NYC in the case of VET, on the assessment component where misconduct was evident;
- grade penalty
- the student/candidate may be allowed to write an assessment on a new topic for a chance to receive no more than 50% of the mark, or Satisfactory in the case of VET, on the assessment component where misconduct was evident;
- failure in the entire subject or research project
Serious (intentional) including contract cheating:
- failure in the entire subject or research project;
- suspension for one or two semesters;
- exclusion from AC.
Where AC has admitted an HDR candidate/student to a degree (or other award of AC) and academic misconduct occurring within the candidate/student’s candidature is substantially alleged and eventually substantiated:
- the HDR candidate/student concerned is recorded as “failed” in any relevant subject or other component of the course of study from which he or she graduated;
- conferral of the degree is rescinded;
- the HDR candidate/student’s name is deleted from AC’s Register of Graduates;
- the HDR /student is required to return the AC testamur and final academic transcript to AC.
NOTIFICATION AND RESOLUTION OF ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT
Step 1: Report of Alleged Academic Misconduct
Information and/or evidence regarding alleged academic misconduct is submitted to the lecturer (and if necessary, the relevant Program Director, or equivalent) as soon as practicable but normally no later than three weeks after the incident to which the information and/or evidence relates came to light. However, the Program Director or relevant supervisor has discretion to accept information and/or evidence later than three weeks after the incident to which the information and/or evidence relates. Any person may report a complaint of misconduct by a faculty member, HDR candidate or student and AC protects the privacy of the individual who reports the complaint.
The Program Director or relevant supervisor must retain all relevant documentation relating to the case of alleged misconduct for use in any subsequent investigation procedure. This documentation will include a relevant item of work or examination sheet and record of meetings and phone conversations with the faculty member, HDR candidate or student concerned and copies of correspondence, including emails, on this and any earlier related matter. The lecturer, Program Director or relevant faculty supervisor acknowledges in writing receipt of a signed statement alleging misconduct immediately upon its receipt.
If the Program Director or relevant faculty supervisor has a conflict of interest in the alleged misconduct, the information and/or evidence is referred to the Head of School or Director of Higher Degree Research who takes receipt, is responsible for issuing written acknowledgement, and takes charge of subsequent inquiries.
Step 2: Investigation
For allegations of student/candidate misconduct, the relevant Program Director (or equivalent) consults the person providing the signed statement, the candidate/student and any other persons the enquirer deems appropriate. The inquiry is concluded within 10 working days of the receipt of the signed statement.
If, on completion of the inquiry, the investigating officer concludes that the candidate/student has no case to answer, no further investigations proceed unless the individual reporting the allegation disagrees with the finding and requests the investigating officer review the case. The request for a review must be lodged in writing within two weeks of the date of notification of the outcome of the finding. Where a review is requested, it proceeds within a week of the request. If the relevant investigating officer upholds the original finding, the case is closed.
If, during the preliminary inquiry, the student/candidate admits to the alleged misconduct, or the investigating officer determines that the suspected student has a case to answer, the penalty is determined in line with this policy.
If, on completion of further inquiry, the investigating officer concludes that the allegation is vexatious or malicious in motivation, or the evidence provided as part of the allegation is spurious, it is reported to the Head of School or Director of Higher Degree Research for appropriate action.
Research misconduct should be investigated by the faculty member’s supervisor using the principles and procedures in the NHMRC Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) or its successors. The investigation will be conducted by the faculty member’s supervisor or another delegated investigating officer.
Step 3: Notification
On completion of necessary inquiries and after making a determination, the investigating officer notifies the student of the outcome via email. Students are advised of the appeal process in accordance with the Complaints and Grievance Policy. Where academic misconduct has occurred, the incident is recorded in the AC Academic Misconduct Register.
If investigating a student/candidate, the Director of Student Experience is also to be notified of the outcome. The Student Experience Department has responsibility for ensuring that the candidate/student’s record is appropriately notated and the determination enforced.
In response to breaches of academic integrity, a review process regarding the type of breach which has occurred and the assessment practices to reduce further potential breaches. This will be undertaken by the Learning and Teaching Committee, a report will be submitted to Academic Board.
If faculty misconduct is determined, then disciplinary action may follow. Faculty are advised of the appeal process in accordance with the Staff Grievance Resolution Policy
Flowchart: Management of student academic misconduct