Types of plagiarism – Collusion

Collusion is a form of plagiarism. It is an intended act of plagiarism, and has to involve at least two people: if you allow a student to copy your work, and that student submits that work with your knowledge, this is an attempt to deliberately deceive the lecturer marking your work.

Scenario A:

Your lecturer has asked your class to submit a piece of group assessment. You work in a group of six students, and hand in a piece of work as requested. When your lecturer returns the work to the class your group is told that there is evidence of plagiarism, specifically collusion, in your submission.

Scenario B:

You have three pieces of coursework due for submission in two weeks. A friend on your course has the same workload, and is ill during the weekend before the due date. She still has one piece of work to finish but is running out of time. To help you give her your work, and say she can use it. You both submit your work in time.

When the work has been marked, you and your friend are contacted by your lecturer. He tells you that there is evidence of plagiarism in your coursework, and says that you both could be guilty of collusion.

What has happened?

Scenario B is a case of collusion – you knew that your friend was going to copy your work and hand it in as her own.

Scenario A is more complicated. The lecturer was expecting a piece of work in which he could read 6 independently written contributions, each contribution clearly written by a different student. What he received was one piece of work from six people, with no clear individual contributions.

His assessment was based on evidence of individual work, and your work shows no evidence of this. Instead it would appear to your lecturer one person wrote the work, and the rest of the group has agreed to say that this was a collaborative effort. Therefore he considers you all to be guilty of collusion.

Academic health warning!

As part of your course it is expected that you will work in groups, and you will be asked to submit assessments based on this group work. It is essential that you ensure that you understand your assessment guidelines before starting a piece of work:

  • The guidelines should state if the final piece of work should include an individual and independent contribution from each group member

If the guidelines are unclear, or you are not sure, you must find out what is expected at the start of your work.

It is expected that during group work you will discuss ideas, conduct research and plan your work together. You will spend much of your working life doing this. It is important that you recognise when you have to write about the work your group has done that you do this as an individual.

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