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KCL academic misconduct - potential plagiarism (please advise)

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(edited 1 week ago)

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Original post by A*Essays
Get a lawyer. Maybe go to alpha academic appeals?

Do you think it’ll come to that? Surely I should just get a warning? It was in a closed book exam and they’ve never ever warned us about plagiarism in that context, but I can see how it is wrong. I really can’t afford to be penalised
Reply 2
'I didn't know' or 'they didn't tell us' is not a defence and indeed will not be a defence - of course plagiarism rules extend to exams, it is incredible that anybody thinks they wouldn't. It is incumbent on the student to know plagiarism rules and if you're rewriting chunks of material effectively word-for-word, then you have to cite it, exam or coursework. It has always been thus.

In the other thread, you say that you were explicitly told that you did not need to reference. which is true? That you didn't know, or that you were told the opposite? If you were told the opposite by a member of staff then you might have something approaching a mitigating factor, though the outcome is still relatively unpredictable. Yes you have previous good academic judgement etc, but this is 3rd year and 3rd year penalties are in the main automatically much harsher.

You should be in dialogue with your student union about this and if you are not, I advise that you make this move quickly.

Lawyers increasingly tout their services in these areas but the reality of the situation is that they have no clout in matters of academic misconduct - it is an internal, non-legal matter that cannot be litigated. All they can do is offer (expensive) 'advice' on how to respond. They might be able to help after the fact if there's a breach of contract claim to be made, but that's a different thing. Generally, the SU can do the same thing for free.
(edited 2 months ago)
Original post by gjd800
'I didn't know' or 'they didn't tell us' is not a defence and indeed will not be a defence - of course plagiarism rules extend to exams, it is incredible that anybody thinks they wouldn't. It is incumbent on the student to know plagiarism rules and if you're rewriting chunks of material effectively word-for-word, then you have to cite it, exam or coursework. It has always been thus.

In the other thread, you say that you were explicitly told that you did not need to reference. which is true? That you didn't know, or that you were told the opposite? If you were told the opposite by a member of staff then you might have something approaching a mitigating factor, though the outcome is still relatively unpredictable. Yes you have previous good academic judgement etc, but this is 3rd year and 3rd year penalties are in the main automatically much harsher.

You should be in dialogue with your student union about this and if you are not, I advise that you make this move quickly.

Lawyers increasingly tout their services in these areas but the reality of the situation is that they have no clout in matters of academic misconduct - it is an internal, non-legal matter that cannot be litigated. All they can do is offer (expensive) 'advice' on how to respond. They might be able to help after the fact if there's a breach of contract claim to be made, but that's a different thing. Generally, the SU can do the same thing for free.

They told us we did not have to reference /cite studies as it was a closed book, invigilated exam. They have informed us about plagiarism in coursework, which I’ve never committed because I’m familiar with that rule. The whole education system encourages us to read around a subject, memorise information, and regurgitate it in an exam. I did that and did not realise it was wrong. I will be honest about this, but to be penalised for this is not very fair. I’m sure I will simply get a warning
Reply 4
Original post by Anonymous #1
They told us we did not have to reference /cite studies as it was a closed book, invigilated exam. They have informed us about plagiarism in coursework, which I’ve never committed because I’m familiar with that rule. The whole education system encourages us to read around a subject, memorise information, and regurgitate it in an exam. I did that and did not realise it was wrong. I will be honest about this, but to be penalised for this is not very fair. I’m sure I will simply get a warning

If you have been told not to bother with the referencing (and there are other students who can attest to this), then I'd make that the first point of defence - obviously, this being the case, you are going to take the word of that member of staff.

I don't know if I really agree about memorisation etc. Tens of thousands of students manage to do this without plagiarising. Indeed, in my third year exams I cited everything (I have a memory like you), and that was some 12 years ago. But this is by the bye, really, because it has already happened.

What I suspect is the case here is a miscommunication. Staff will generally say 'don't cite in exams' because the vast, vast majority of students will talk around a point and at least be able to remember who said it - this is enough, usually. But if you're putting stuff out word for word, that is very different (and unusual), and this stuff must be cited as per any other academic endeavour.

Try to make the most out of this potential defence, but whilst also acknowledging that it is strictly plagiarism - being told to do the opposite should be a mitigating factor, and to my mind, it should be a pretty hefty one. If it goes against you, I'd be tempted to appeal and make the claim that there has been a procedural irregularity, namely that the staff member has given you incorrect instruction re referencing which has now compromised your examination. You'd really need some evidence of this, even if it's just other students agreeing that it was said. better if you have it in an email etc.
Original post by gjd800
If you have been told not to bother with the referencing (and there are other students who can attest to this), then I'd make that the first point of defence - obviously, this being the case, you are going to take the word of that member of staff.

I don't know if I really agree about memorisation etc. Tens of thousands of students manage to do this without plagiarising. Indeed, in my third year exams I cited everything (I have a memory like you), and that was some 12 years ago. But this is by the bye, really, because it has already happened.

What I suspect is the case here is a miscommunication. Staff will generally say 'don't cite in exams' because the vast, vast majority of students will talk around a point and at least be able to remember who said it - this is enough, usually. But if you're putting stuff out word for word, that is very different (and unusual), and this stuff must be cited as per any other academic endeavour.

Try to make the most out of this potential defence, but whilst also acknowledging that it is strictly plagiarism - being told to do the opposite should be a mitigating factor, and to my mind, it should be a pretty hefty one. If it goes against you, I'd be tempted to appeal and make the claim that there has been a procedural irregularity, namely that the staff member has given you incorrect instruction re referencing which has now compromised your examination. You'd really need some evidence of this, even if it's just other students agreeing that it was said. better if you have it in an email etc.

I actually have evidence on the module page that says we do not need to reference or cite anything in the closed book exam. I will mention this to them. But I think the issue is that I used information from online publications and uni resources word for word. I will explain that I understand this is plagiarism now and it won’t happen again. As I said, the education system has always encouraged me to memorise as much info as possible, read around a subject, and dump it in the exam. I have a photogenic memory too, as noted by my tutor, not sure if that helps my case. What do you recommend I do at this point to get a warning? I have a lot at stake here
Reply 6
Original post by cutelilpapiclown
I actually have evidence on the module page that says we do not need to reference or cite anything in the closed book exam. I will mention this to them. But I think the issue is that I used information from online publications and uni resources word for word. I will explain that I understand this is plagiarism now and it won’t happen again. As I said, the education system has always encouraged me to memorise as much info as possible, read around a subject, and dump it in the exam. I have a photogenic memory too, as noted by my tutor, not sure if that helps my case. What do you recommend I do at this point to get a warning? I have a lot at stake here

Yeah, it's a tough spot. If I were you I'd push hard on that thing that says don't reference stuff, but still doing as you say and acknowledging it was poor form. It's hard for me to say any more in terms of outcomes because each institution differs, but I hope that there's some leniency deployed here and that it doesn't scupper you.
Reply 7
Original post by cutelilpapiclown
Do you think it’ll come to that? Surely I should just get a warning? It was in a closed book exam and they’ve never ever warned us about plagiarism in that context, but I can see how it is wrong. I really can’t afford to be penalised

You don't know what they will do; they could potentially even expel you. Just be safe and at least ask a lawyer for advice.
Reply 8
(But go to one that specialises in academic misconduct)
Original post by A*Essays
You don't know what they will do; they could potentially even expel you. Just be safe and at least ask a lawyer for advice.

definitely not. it is a first offence. i believe i will get a warning due to my clean academic record and how i will explain my case. thank you though!
Original post by cutelilpapiclown
Hi everyone. I am a final year student reading biomedical science at King's. I received an email a few days ago about concerns that I had plagiarised parts of my exam. I would like to emphasise that this was a closed-book exam at the Excel Centre with invigilators. I am an honest, hardworking student whose achieved a first class grade in my 1st and 2nd year, 4x Deans Commendation. This news deeply hurts me. It has affected my mental health and worsened my trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder). I have never had this issue before and I understand how big of an issue plagiarism is. We are always told to uphold academic integrity in that sense for coursework, but it has never been mentioned in an exam (otherwise I would have never committed such an offence). As I grew up in the education system, I was always told to memorise chunks of information from wherever I could find e.g. textbooks and regurgitate it in an exam essay. I did that here and realise how big of a mistake it is. The consequences are that my mark is capped to 40%, that I retake the exam in August (after graduation, which is heart breaking, but I will also be travelling with my mother for her rheumatoid arthritis treatment so what does this mean for me?), and I may have to give up my offer for a master's at Oxford uni due to lack of a first-class grade. Or they can let me go with a warning for improper academic practice, which is the ideal scenario. I recognise my mistake here which I did not before, I need advice to tackle this situation and put it behind me. I have not been able to function properly the last few years, my sleep, eating, and social life have been severely affected. If someone knows how I should go about this, please do help me. My first essay had a turnitin score of 26%, and another of 32%.

Did you get a grade for your exam before you were sent an email regarding plagrisim?
Original post by jamming1239
Did you get a grade for your exam before you were sent an email regarding plagrisim?

no, they said they wouldn’t mark it until the meeting happened
Reply 12
I'm amazed that regurgitating from a textbook in a closed book science exam would be considered a plagiarism offence. I'd have thought it was pretty common for people to do that.
Reply 13
Original post by AF2Dr
I'm amazed that regurgitating from a textbook in a closed book science exam would be considered a plagiarism offence. I'd have thought it was pretty common for people to do that.

Most people don't have perfect recall and write down other people's content word-for-word.
Original post by AF2Dr
I'm amazed that regurgitating from a textbook in a closed book science exam would be considered a plagiarism offence. I'd have thought it was pretty common for people to do that.

sadly not ! my recall was very precise. i will explain my situation to them and hopefully they let me off with a warning. you live and learn
Original post by cutelilpapiclown
I actually have evidence on the module page that says we do not need to reference or cite anything in the closed book exam. I will mention this to them. But I think the issue is that I used information from online publications and uni resources word for word. I will explain that I understand this is plagiarism now and it won’t happen again. As I said, the education system has always encouraged me to memorise as much info as possible, read around a subject, and dump it in the exam. I have a photogenic memory too, as noted by my tutor, not sure if that helps my case. What do you recommend I do at this point to get a warning? I have a lot at stake here

If you haven't done so already, take a screenshot of the evidence. Maybe better still, take a photo of the screen so that it shows it actually on something physical, which will make it harder for anyone to say you photoshopped it.
Original post by cutelilpapiclown
I actually have evidence on the module page that says we do not need to reference or cite anything in the closed book exam. I will mention this to them. But I think the issue is that I used information from online publications and uni resources word for word. I will explain that I understand this is plagiarism now and it won’t happen again. As I said, the education system has always encouraged me to memorise as much info as possible, read around a subject, and dump it in the exam. I have a photogenic memory too, as noted by my tutor, not sure if that helps my case. What do you recommend I do at this point to get a warning? I have a lot at stake here

Also - you say you have a photographic memory. You don't need to answer here, but if you are autistic then you could additionally add that taking things literally is a mitigating factor too.
Original post by SilverPebble
Also - you say you have a photographic memory. You don't need to answer here, but if you are autistic then you could additionally add that taking things literally is a mitigating factor too.

I've taken a screenshot of where they said we did not need to reference or cite information, but I think the issue is that I learnt chunks of information word-for-word from textbooks/online publications and included that in my exam. I will try to explain this to them, I truly did not know it counted for plagiarism, especially as it was closed book and invigilated
hi everyone! update on my case, i've been let off the hook. it has definitely been a learning curve for me. good luck to you all
Original post by cutelilpapiclown
hi everyone! update on my case, i've been let off the hook. it has definitely been a learning curve for me. good luck to you all

Well done for challenging this - some people can remember word for word.

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