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Operation of the HPS plagiarism policy

Much emphasis in University policy is placed on raising student awareness of what constitutes plagiarism rather than dealing with the consequences of it. With this in mind we believe that it may be useful to specify the operation of the our plagiarism policy, and this is described below.

Departments are expected to have their own guidance, which is in line with University guidance, and this is published on departmental websites and in handbooks. The Department's policy can be found here:

Plagiarism guidelines

To support the policy the Department offers a Research Methods session on 'How to Avoid Plagiarism', and at the induction sessions, held in the first week of the first term, all students are briefed in aspects of best practice in the matter of plagiarism, and they are made aware of how seriously the examiners take this issue and how they can avoid all suspicion of plagiarism by appropriate methods of research and preparation of submitted work.

All Part II, Part III and MPhil coursework should be submitted electronically, by being uploaded to Moodle, so the word count and originality can be checked.

When students submit coursework, they are also required to submit a formal declaration that they have read and adhered to the Department's Plagiarism Guidelines confirming that it is all their own work, except where acknowledgement is given to the work of others.

In their letters of appointment all examiners are asked to familiarise themselves with the Department and the University's guidelines on plagiarism so they are aware of what constitutes plagiarism and when they are presented with work to examine, all examiners are told that a copy of the work is also available electronically, so they can check for derivative passages if they think this is necessary.

The Department is also aware that supervisors and examiners need to be vigilant in cases where students want to build on their previous work. Such cases are only liable to occur at MPhil or Part III level. A procedure was introduced whereby, if examiners have any doubts about whether a student is recycling work (self-plagiarism), they should contact the Senior MPhil or Part III Examiner for advice on how to proceed.

If an examiner for either undergraduate or graduate degrees suspects that work submitted for examination contains unattributed work from other sources, he or she should report the matter to the Senior Examiner. The advice on dealing with suspected plagiarism is to be found at:

Plagiarism: policy, procedure and guidance for staff and examiners

In providing an assessment of the work, examiners are asked to determine the extent and significance of the badly referenced or plagiarised material by annotating the relevant sections of the text denoting where sources have not been acknowledged or have been poorly referenced. A copy of the source material should also be provided together with any other relevant supporting evidence including any of the examiner's own observations on the unattributed work. Examiners are encouraged to undertake an Advanced Google search where appropriate so as to identify from where material may have been derived.

Examiners are asked to provide an assessment of the academic merit of the work of the candidate ignoring the suspect material and only marking the material they believe to be the candidate's own work; this will provide a basis for the final result and for any disciplinary actions by the University. Examiners should not deduct marks to reflect the nature and extent of the poor scholarship without first discussing the case with the Senior Examiner.

The Chairman or Senior Examiner must then inform the Secretary of the Board of Examinations and the Proctors. At this stage, the Proctors should also receive a copy of the supporting evidence.

Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated by the University. This might involve initially being interviewed by the Examiners and Proctors and could ultimately lead to suspension from the University or failure.

From October 2016 the Department is using Turnitin UK text-matching software to blanket screen all student work submitted in Moodle.