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How to work with other students without cheating

Students in a classroom

Some kinds of work can be shared with other students, whereas sharing other activities would be considered to be cheating.

Below are some guidelines. If you are in any doubt, however, always check with your tutors.

All in your own words…

In general, any writing you submit for assessment should either be in your own words, or properly referenced.

  • When you discuss ideas in a group, write them down as notes with bullet points. Avoid writing sentences you have heard – others might write down the same sentences and copy them into their assignments, and this would be seen as cheating.
  • If you record discussions, do not type out what is recorded. If you do, you may accidentally copy someone else’s words into an assignment or essay – this too would be cheating.
  • You may be asked to work as a group to design a project and collect data together. In such cases, always make your own notes about the design, methods, data collection, results, discussion, and conclusions. Write the final account from your own notes – not from anyone else’s.
  • Don’t share out writing tasks between group members. It is usually a requirement that the whole of an assignment or project is written entirely in your own words. Consult your tutor or course literature if you are unsure.
  • If text is sent to you by other group members, never copy and paste it into an assignment – this would be cheating. The person who sent it might also use the text in their own assignment, and this would be noticed.
  • Don’t let anybody see your writing before the tutor has marked and returned your work. If someone copies your work and hands it in as their own, you may also be held responsible.
  • Always write your own references. Mistakes easily creep into references, and tutors are usually good at detecting copied errors.

Accidental cheating?

Tutors are usually adept at finding identical and near-identical sections in students’ work. Software is available which can help them to find work copied from the Internet or from other students.

If your tutors find the same wording in two assignments, they will suspect that cheating has occurred. This could mean that you would have to retake the whole module. You might even be asked to leave the university. Cheating or what is often called plagiarism is a very serious academic offence.

Tasks that can be shared

There are many tasks that can be shared out amongst friends, support groups or project group members. These include:

  • deciding on the group project title
  • clarifying each other’s understanding of course material, by discussing lectures, notes, texts, cases, experiences, ideas
  • discussing new ideas and publications
  • sharing administrative tasks, such as book study rooms, keeping agendas of meetings, or writing for permission to interview people
  • undertaking a literature search, and then identifying key texts and sections that everyone should read
  • discussing and deciding on a methodology
  • checking out useful websites
  • collecting data
  • discussing data, and what it means
  • helping each other to learn software packages
  • encouraging each other to succeed

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