All text-based or written work that is submitted for assessment needs to be passed through text-matching or similarity-detection software. This software may also be used for other assessment items, such as presentations or programming code.
The main software used for text-based items is Turnitin. This checks your work for originality or similarity against a range of sources including:
Once Turnitin has scanned your work, it produces an originality report that relevant academic staff will consider. You won’t usually have access to this report.
Turnitin helps assessors identify similarities between your work and other sources. There is no ‘score’ that constitutes plagiarism – this is up to the assessor’s academic judgement. Similar text may be the result of quotations or references, which is not plagiarism. However, plagiarism may occur where ideas are copied and not acknowledged even though the text isn’t copied.
Turnitin released a detector for artificial intelligence (AI) writing in early April, and the University is currently trialling this software. If an academic suspects that part or all of your assessment has been generated using AI technology, the Turnitin AI detection tool may be used to evaluate the situation. It’s important to note that the AI detector score would not be the only evidence to raise an academic integrity issue but will be considered alongside other relevant evidence.
Reporting academic dishonesty or breaches of integrity
Any member of the University or wider community can report a suspected academic integrity breach.
As a student, you can contact the Office of Educational Integrity to report an incident. You can do this anonymously and your report will be treated confidentially.
The Academic Integrity Policy 2022 (pdf, 376KB) and Academic Integrity Procedures 2022 (pdf, 320KB), published in November 2022, outline the procedure for handling incidents of academic integrity breaches. The policy also explains the University’s position on breaches of academic integrity as well as your responsibilities and those of staff members.
If a staff member suspects you’ve breached the academic integrity policy, they will usually be directed to the unit coordinator who’ll assess whether there’s evidence of a breach, and if so, determine what type of breach. Unit coordinators can resolve minor breaches relating to plagiarism or recycling with an educational outcome. More serious breaches are referred to the relevant faculty’s Educational Integrity Coordinator or one of its nominated academics for investigation.
There is no issue with your work and the matter is dismissed.
These are small breaches of academic integrity requirements that can reasonably be attributed to inadvertence or a failure to fully understand referencing requirements or acceptable academic practice. For example, not including quotation marks around a direct quotation or minor breaches of examination conditions.
More serious forms of academic integrity breaches include persistent or reckless disregard for accepted academic practice, or a moderate or high volume of unattributed content. For example, making no attempt to acknowledge source material or fabricating citations.
Two or more minor breaches can also constitute a major breach.
Misconduct includes contract cheating, repeated academic integrity breaches, or breaches deemed by the decision maker to warrant a larger penalty than for those available major breaches. Misconduct has the same meaning as is outlined in the University of Sydney (Student Discipline) Rule (pdf, 162KB).
Minor breaches related to low-level plagiarism or recycling can be determined by your unit coordinator. If they determine that you have engaged in a minor breach, you will be sent a letter outlining the steps to resolve the matter.
You will be required to complete an approved development course and may receive a small, remedial mark reduction to remove any advantage that could be gained through inappropriate academic practice. This is an opportunity for you to learn about the required standards of referencing and improve for future assessments.
If you have a prior record of an academic integrity breach, the case will be directed to the Faculty’s Educational Integrity Coordinator or nominated academic to be assessed.
Minor breaches can also be determined by your Faculty’s Educational Integrity Coordinator or nominated academic. If they determine that you have engaged in a minor breach, you will be sent a letter outlining the steps to resolve the matter.
You will be required to complete an approved development course and may receive a small, remedial mark reductions to remove any advantage that could be gained through inappropriate academic practice. This is an opportunity for you to learn about the required standards of referencing and improve for future assessments.
If the matter relates to a potentially more serious academic integrity breach, the Educational Integrity Coordinator or nominated academic will carry out an initial investigation in which they will consider why the incident was reported.
Before determining if the allegation has been substantiated, the Educational Integrity Coordinator or nominated academic must give you written notice that:
Once you have responded to the formal allegation, or the time allowed for you to respond has elapsed, the Educational Integrity Coordinator or nominated academic will consider your response and the evidence available. All available evidence will be considered. This may include the work you submitted, similarity-detection software reports, source publications, examination incident reports and prohibited materials confiscated during an examination.
They will then determine what outcome will be applied to the allegation.
The Educational Integrity Coordinator or nominated academic will inform you of the outcome and if you are required to complete a development course, or if the matter has been referred to the Registrar.
Before you respond to an allegation either at a meeting or in writing, you can seek advice and support from one of the independent student advocacy services. These services are free, confidential and independent of the University.
If you are requested to attend a meeting, it will usually take about 15 to 20 minutes and will include at least you, the Educational Integrity Coordinator and a professional staff member from the faculty. You can bring a support person, and occasionally your teacher or examination invigilator (supervisor) will be asked to attend.
If the allegation is referred to the Registrar, it will be dealt with under the misconduct process.