Academic Misconduct Panels and Turnitin
Academic Misconduct Panel Boundary Decisions
The precise guidelines for a school's Academic Misconduct Panel will vary from school to school, but in general, it is likely that three classes of judgement are to be made when considering a submission:
- No misconduct and no poor practice has taken place
- Academic poor practice but no misconduct
- Misconduct has taken place
While a Turnitin report cannot be used to place a submission into one of these categories in a deterministic fashion, it does provide some helpful supporting evidence. The AMP needs to be consistent in placing the boundaries between '1' and '2' and between '2' and '3'.
In the School of Informatics guidelines for category 2 are important in providing the boundaries. To fall into category 2, the submitted work may contain "very small amounts of poor referencing [for example an amount that might have evaded a proof reading]". The AMP must therefore be clear as what constitutes "very small". For the AMP to reach a '1' judgment, the amount of unreferenced material must therefore be less than "very small". For '3' judgments, the SOI guidelines suggest that the amount of unreferenced material must be sufficient that it could not "have evaded a proof reading". Schools may wish to establish some examples to clarify such boundary decisions.
School AMPs need to specify what markers should submit when alleging possible misconduct. The Turnitin report provides useful supporting evidence to aid markers, but the report alone is not sufficient in providing the details of alleged misconduct.
One possible approach is to require markers to provide a brief narrative to accompany a Turnitin report. Two examples are provided here.
The Turnitin report identifies unattributed copying from at least 4 key sources. There is significant copying from references , ,  and  highlighted in the plagiarism report. Reference  (e.g. pp.3-4; p.15; pp.25-27) in particular makes this unacceptable. In several cases (e.g. but not limited to p.3, 4, 15, 26), there is verbatim copying with only a general reference to the source (no quotation marks or page references). There are also many further instances, where material is copied without even a reference to the source. The conclusion section is of particular concern as it copies the conclusions of  without any attribution.
The Turnitin report has identified a 12% match with work from Student XXX. In particular, pp.1-2 in the introduction section contain 15 lines of identical material; the discussion section (pp.8-9) contains two paragraphs of material that contains some rewording, but as evidenced by the Turnitin report, clearly comes from a common source as Student XXX's work on p.9. The coursework instructions clearly stated that this submission must be entirely the student's own work, so submissions from both students should be submitted to the AMP for consideration
Importance of Fair Submission Strategy
A matter for both Schools and for City as a whole concerns what type of papers to submit to Turnitin. A common and tempting practice is to submit papers that appear 'suspicious', but this could be considered inappropriate in terms of discrimination (especially since it often discriminates against foreign students who may not be as proficient as native English speakers at paraphrasing or smoothly integrating second-hand material). A preferable policy is to either submit all papers to Turnitin, to submit all papers for a given module/paper, or to submit a random sampling of papers (for example, 10%). It should also be made clear to students which policy is at work, and be made clear how they can access support resources both before and after any course work is due.