The Student Room Group
Student at the Open University
Open University
Milton Keynes

Email about plagiarism? Accused of cheating?

I am taking 2 modules at a time and have received an email a few days ago for my M250 Java module saying that they can not release my final result as there is concerns with one of my assignments in regards to plagiarism.

I did all 3 assignments and have had them all back, marked etc. Why now is there concern with one of the assignments after having them back? I took the end of module exam, didn't do too well in it to be fair.

The email they sent me reads:


I am contacting you about your module result(s) to explain why you have been issued with a ‘Pending’ status.

One of your assignments is currently being reviewed by the University because some potential issues of concern have been identified within your work which may be related to plagiarism. Before a score can be issued for that assignment and your module result confirmed, a member of faculty staff has been asked to review your work and determine if the issues of concern are justified and need to be investigated further.

They will aim to complete this review as quickly as possible, but it may take some time as each case that has been pended needs to be considered thoroughly to ensure the right outcome is reached. This is an important part of maintaining quality assurance and the high academic standards of the University.

The University aims to resolve pended cases within six weeks, but this can sometimes take longer where cases are more complex. We will update you before the end of this six-week period if your case cannot be resolved in this time.

I did look online for help with some of the questions in my assignments as the module book and materials just didn't explain it well enough for me. Could I have used some code too much like online and not 'made it my own'?

What happens if they do think I've straight up cheated? I couldn't possibly do those assignments again, what I did learn at the time I've already forgotten.

I'm getting worried now, and don't particularly want to wait 6 weeks for an outcome! Thanks for any advice you give.

Scroll to see replies

Original post by mrcactus

I did look online for help with some of the questions in my assignments as the module book and materials just didn't explain it well enough for me. Could I have used some code too much like online and not 'made it my own'?

What happens if they do think I've straight up cheated? I couldn't possibly do those assignments again, what I did learn at the time I've already forgotten.

I'm getting worried now, and don't particularly want to wait 6 weeks for an outcome! Thanks for any advice you give.


Yes, that's most likely it. Generally, you should not be looking up similar/exact questions for coursework. You should also be citing any code you've used/borrowed online (yes, references are not just for essays).

You need to read your taught assessment regulations as to what the potential penalties are. Not sure if the OU is different but your student's association/union may have resources on this.
(edited 2 years ago)
Student at the Open University
Open University
Milton Keynes
Original post by mrcactus
I am taking 2 modules at a time and have received an email a few days ago for my M250 Java module saying that they can not release my final result as there is concerns with one of my assignments in regards to plagiarism.

I did all 3 assignments and have had them all back, marked etc. Why now is there concern with one of the assignments after having them back? I took the end of module exam, didn't do too well in it to be fair.

The email they sent me reads:


I am contacting you about your module result(s) to explain why you have been issued with a ‘Pending’ status.

One of your assignments is currently being reviewed by the University because some potential issues of concern have been identified within your work which may be related to plagiarism. Before a score can be issued for that assignment and your module result confirmed, a member of faculty staff has been asked to review your work and determine if the issues of concern are justified and need to be investigated further.

They will aim to complete this review as quickly as possible, but it may take some time as each case that has been pended needs to be considered thoroughly to ensure the right outcome is reached. This is an important part of maintaining quality assurance and the high academic standards of the University.

The University aims to resolve pended cases within six weeks, but this can sometimes take longer where cases are more complex. We will update you before the end of this six-week period if your case cannot be resolved in this time.

I did look online for help with some of the questions in my assignments as the module book and materials just didn't explain it well enough for me. Could I have used some code too much like online and not 'made it my own'?

What happens if they do think I've straight up cheated? I couldn't possibly do those assignments again, what I did learn at the time I've already forgotten.

I'm getting worried now, and don't particularly want to wait 6 weeks for an outcome! Thanks for any advice you give.


Its hard to comment without knowing more on exactly what was flagged, or your knowledge of how much code you borrowed.

it could be anywhere from simply a similarity checker picking up something it’ll be reviewed and you’ll be fine.

to you have directly borrowed line for line other people’s work without citation and you could be in more serious trouble (a lot would depend the volume & what stage of your studies),in this type of scenario you could be just fail the one submission and get a zero on the assignment or something further. Assuming your first year you’ll get probably more slack but can’t say for sure.
Original post by mrcactus
I am taking 2 modules at a time and have received an email a few days ago for my M250 Java module saying that they can not release my final result as there is concerns with one of my assignments in regards to plagiarism.

I did all 3 assignments and have had them all back, marked etc. Why now is there concern with one of the assignments after having them back?



What happens if they do think I've straight up cheated? I couldn't possibly do those assignments again, what I did learn at the time I've already forgotten.

I'm getting worried now, and don't particularly want to wait 6 weeks for an outcome! Thanks for any advice you give.


A reason why you are only being notified now is that the plagiarism checking software might have only just flagged up a possible match. As far as I'm aware, all assignments are run through these, but only after they've been marked by your tutor. Often a tutor will spot plagiarism, and advise the student at the time, but I would say for code, this might be a little more difficult.

I'd also be a little concerned that you couldn't do the assignments again, as you've already forgotten the module content!! Surely you need knowledge from this module to support your next modules?!

Hopefully, it was just a small amount of code that has been flagged up, and can be easily sorted.
Reply 4
Original post by gaynor_scraggins
A reason why you are only being notified now is that the plagiarism checking software might have only just flagged up a possible match. As far as I'm aware, all assignments are run through these, but only after they've been marked by your tutor. Often a tutor will spot plagiarism, and advise the student at the time, but I would say for code, this might be a little more difficult.

I'd also be a little concerned that you couldn't do the assignments again, as you've already forgotten the module content!! Surely you need knowledge from this module to support your next modules?!

Hopefully, it was just a small amount of code that has been flagged up, and can be easily sorted.


Luckily I don't need to bother with Java again, I've picked my last two modules and they don't have any code writing required.

Hopefully it is just a small amount of code that's been flagged but also worrying me more on how long they are taking getting back to me with this issue. Guess I'll just have to wait and see what they say :s-smilie:
Reply 5
Original post by mrcactus
Could I have used some code too much like online and not 'made it my own'?


I might have misunderstood what you mean by this. If I have, please ignore the rant below.

External research is always good. But finding an existing solution to a problem and then changing it to "make it your own" isn't, regardless of whether or not you succeed in getting it past turnitin. The purpose of learning to program is to be able to tackle novel problems, decide on a solution, and express that solution as code.

There are many possible penalties, ranging from mild to dramatic. There's a document somewhere that outlines the steps.

I don't know if requiring you to retake the module is a likely decision in your case, but I'd honestly argue it would be for the best given your admission that you didn't learn much.

Programming is an essential, fundamental skill for any further study or career involving computing. There's a long-running stereotype of CS grads who can't actually program (google fizzbuzz if you've never heard of it), and it'd be better to avoid furthering that impression.

If you don't retake M250, please consider taking programming courses elsewhere or self-teaching it in a way that works for you.
Reply 6
Had an email a few days ago, they are still investigating me. Apparently an Academic Conduct Officer will be in contact soon but haven't heard anything yet. This had been looming over me since July!
Reply 7
Hi there, can you please explain what the outcome is?

My exam result are under review too and not sure what to expect.
Reply 8
Original post by Agirl33
Hi there, can you please explain what the outcome is?

My exam result are under review too and not sure what to expect.


Hey. Nope, still no results or communication from the Uni!



I contacted them about 2 months ago and received a reply saying they apologise for the wait but there were a lot of cases they are reviewing and someone will be in touch. This has been looming over me since July 2022.



When did you take the test? Was it for the same module?
Reply 9
Original post by mrcactus
Hey. Nope, still no results or communication from the Uni!



I contacted them about 2 months ago and received a reply saying they apologise for the wait but there were a lot of cases they are reviewing and someone will be in touch. This has been looming over me since July 2022.



When did you take the test? Was it for the same module?


Honestly! This is dragging!!
Mine was a physiology test 11th of January! My results says “under review , iv spoken to student union and they said 9/10 is to do with academic misconduct! I am terrified :/
Reply 10
Original post by Agirl33
Honestly! This is dragging!!
Mine was a physiology test 11th of January! My results says “under review , iv spoken to student union and they said 9/10 is to do with academic misconduct! I am terrified :/

Hopefully they wont take as long as they are with me. With me, it was my assignments that are under review so they are witholding my exam result...not that I did well in it anyway!
I got an email last Monday about one of my assignment submissions saying that it needs to be review so they have withheld my mark pending review. I am scared that it is about plagiarism as my turn it in score was high but the email was vague and it said I will receive correspondence from my course officers but still haven't heard anything. This is affecting my mental health really badly I am scared.
Original post by Agirl33
Honestly! This is dragging!!
Mine was a physiology test 11th of January! My results says “under review , iv spoken to student union and they said 9/10 is to do with academic misconduct! I am terrified :/
Original post by mrcactus
Hey. Nope, still no results or communication from the Uni!



I contacted them about 2 months ago and received a reply saying they apologise for the wait but there were a lot of cases they are reviewing and someone will be in touch. This has been looming over me since July 2022.



When did you take the test? Was it for the same module?

Honestly, this doesn't sound right that you've been waiting almost 7 months for the outcome of a plagiarism accusation...
Reply 13
Original post by Sorcerer of Old
Honestly, this doesn't sound right that you've been waiting almost 7 months for the outcome of a plagiarism accusation...


Exactly what I was thinking. After the first few months had gone by, I put it down to strikes etc. But as time has gone on, I'm wondering why it's taking so long. This call from the academic conduct officer has never been recieved by me and I answer all calls from numbers so I would have known if they had called me.

Also, never got an actual letter delivered to the house about it, all I've gotten is emails. I've tried to chase it up with the open uni student support team and got an email from some woman apologising that it's taking so long but someone will be in touch.
Reply 14
Just to give an update.....there is NO update! Still waiting for someone from OU to call me hahaha. Obviously they're not in a rush
They will review your work and they will give you a chance to explain what you think has happened in a “preliminary investigation” and if they are happy in that they will then give you an outcome however if they suspect plagiarism they may take it to an academic panel. You should ask your student union cos I’m going through something like this rn.
Reply 16
A few days ago I emailed students association to step in and chase up this investigation thats been going on since July 2022. Have receieved an email from the OU again today, apologising for the delay and someone will be in contact shortly. Absolute bullsh*t to wait this long.
I am currently representing an OU student at the OIAHE with respect to a complaint against what we consider to be a biased and unfair investigation and appeals process. The above experiences are typical as I have been made repeatedly aware, Our case has specific mitigating factors which the OU has consistently ignored and/or denied, with no attempt to address the core exculpatory evidence. Such factors may or may not be relevant to individual cases above, but if you would be willing to go to my first message where I briefly explain the unbelievable issues, and you have personally, or know of any else, who has had a similar experience I would welcome any feedback.

Unfortunately I suggest from experience, despite claims otherwise, it appears in practice, the burden of proof requirements are significantly skewed to the advantage of the institution.

I hope you all to receive a fair and unbiased decision!
Reply 18
Original post by mrcactus
Luckily I don't need to bother with Java again, I've picked my last two modules and they don't have any code writing required.

Hopefully it is just a small amount of code that's been flagged but also worrying me more on how long they are taking getting back to me with this issue. Guess I'll just have to wait and see what they say :s-smilie:



if they find you guilty your studies end. and not just with ou. you best review what you submitted and see if you can find the issue. i know ou has just started using turnitin may just be an issue with that.
Reply 19
if they find you guilty your studies end. and not just with ou. you best review what you submitted and see if you can find the issue. i know ou has just started using turnitin may just be an issue with that.


Next month it will be a year since the investigation started, surely they should have come to a conclusion and contacted me by now?

I've read different things on this, I've read that if you admit to cheating they will be more leinent? Also read that they have to prove a person has cheated?

Quick Reply