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Frequently Asked Questions

It's easy to be confused about what is and what isn't academic misconduct. Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions.

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General

Is it okay to get my mother to help me finish a piece of coursework?

You need to be careful.

This might be seen as plagiarism or ghosting if your mum gave you the key ideas for the coursework, or if she actually wrote the work for you. It would normally be fine for you to speak through your general ideas with your mum or another person, before you wrote the final assignment. If in doubt, please check with your course tutor - don't take a risk.

Is it okay to submit an essay I bought from an essay bank?

Definitely not.

This is definitely plagiarism and would get you into serious trouble. These sites are to be avoided.

Is it okay to work with members of my study group to help complete an assignment?

That depends.

This depends on what your assessment guidelines say about collaborative working. If the guidelines say you can submit a joint assignment, then of course you can work with the other members of your group, but you have to make sure that you contribute to the group submission.

If they say you have to submit an individual piece of work, check to see if that means you have to do the whole thing on your own or if you can discuss ideas as a group first. But, whichever it is, always make sure you demonstrate individual ideas.

Is it okay to copy stuff from the Internet?

Only if you do it properly.

The only legitimate way to do this is through using a direct quotation - you would need to acknowledge and reference it using the style approved by your department, in a similar way to the ways you reference information from books or journals. Material from the Internet, even from Wikipedia or found using Google, always needs referencing.

I forgot to do my survey. Is it okay to make up the data to help me complete my assignment?

Definitely not.

Inventing or changing data is counted as falsification. You have to remember that the quality of the data is an important part of the overall quality of the assignment, and inventing figures lessens that quality. Also, when you undertake a research project, your lecturers will normally want to see evidence of how you undertook the work.

Is it okay to give my essay to another student?

Probably not.

Unless your classmate is only going to read through your work in your presence and then hand it straight back to you, this could be considered plagiarism. Be careful: if you help someone else to copy your work, you are just as guilty of plagiarism as the person who does the copying. Make sure your own work is safe.

I've been doing some research. Is it okay to hand in the analysis of the results twice, for different assignments?

Probably yes.

There are checks to be made here. When you hand in the second piece, you should reference your earlier submission, as you would reference any other author's work. Otherwise, you might be seen as trying to get double credit for one piece of work and can be accused of duplication. It should be ok to use the results more than once, as long as you are open about it. However, occasionally this might not be acceptable as some assessments may require new research. If in doubt, check.

Is it academic misconduct if its accidental?

Yes it is.

The Assessment Regulations are clear that City does not have to prove that a student intended to commit academic misconduct, although intent can carry heavier penalties. Inadvertent misconduct is still misconduct - so you need to make sure that you understand what can constitute academic misconduct and then work out how to stop yourself doing it.

Is it okay if I re-write someone else's work in my own words?

Generally yes, but you need to check.

This would normally be acceptable, but be sure to understand what the conventions are. Generally, if you are drawing on somebody else's theory, argument, or other work, you must make sure you reference it properly. You can draw on another party's ideas (and you may need to, to support a point you are making), but you must acknowledge this. Even if you reference, it is not very good academic practice just to take someone's words and re-word them. Try to develop your ability to amalgamate, analyse and develop a number of ideas in order to create a more original piece of work. Again, course tutors will offer advice for the programme that you are studying.

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Citing and Referencing

Do I need to separate my bibliography into books, journals, and websites?

No, you don't.

Your list would contain a variety of formats all listed according to author, regardless of the type of material the reference came from. The way you reference the material in the list will indicate what format it is. For more information about bibliographies and reference lists see Citing and Referencing.

How do I know which referencing style to use?

Check your handbook.

You should always find advice in your programme handbook, so this will be the first place to check. Currently the main style used at City, University of London is Harvard, but some Departments use different styles which are traditionally used for the subject being taught. For more information about different styles see Citing and Referencing, and More citing and referencing resources.

What do I do if I haven't made a note of the page numbers of a quote I'm using?

You've got work to do!

Sorry, there's no quick solution to this one. You will need to find the quote that you were using and make a note of the page numbers. It is important that if they need to, your lecturer can go straight to the quote in the original source you've used in case they want to check the context the quote was used in, or just that the quote is correct.

What if I haven't made a note of the journal article page numbers in the bibliography?

Find the article again.

Sorry, but it's the same answer - you'll need to find the article again. Although, if you got the reference to the article from an indexing database in the first place, is it possible you may have emailed the results to yourself or saved them? These will have the page numbers of the entire article which you can use. Of course if you have used an exact quote, you will need to find the original article to include in your citation in the body of the text.

Are citations and references included as part of my word count?

Generally, citations are but references are not.

In general, the citations contained within the body of the text would count but the full reference list at the end wouldn't. Of course, do check the guidance about word counts given in your programme handbook or ask your lecturer.

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Preventing Plagiarism

I've read an idea in a book, written it in my own words, and used it in my assignment to support my own argument. Is that okay?

Only if you cite and reference properly.

Well, you can put the idea in there to support your own argument about an idea, but you MUST make sure you mention it originally came from that author by Citing and Referencing the source. If you replicate any part of the idea, for example put in an identical sentence to the author, you MUST use quotation marks and include the page number, otherwise you could be accused of plagiarism. See Some tips for preventing plagiarism for more advice on paraphrasing.

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