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Referencing and Plagiarism: QMU Regulations and Procedures

QMU Approach to Plagiarism

At QMU we take a balanced, institutional approach to plagiarism (Carroll and Appleton 2001).

This means we:

Explain to students what plagiarism is and how to avoid it
Provide support in the skills of good academic writing, avoiding plagiarism
Assist tutors in the design of assessments to make plagiarism less likely
Give students access to software (Turnitin) to check the authenticity of their work before they submit it for marking

QMU's approach to plagiarism concentrates on prevention but has policies and processes in place to handle any cases that may arise as the sections below outline.


QMU's regulations strongly emphasise the prevention of plagiarism through good scholarship and explain that academic staff members are responsible for ensuring that students are aware that academic dishonesty in its various forms is unacceptable and may be penalised severely. Such warnings may be repeated throughout the programme but will be accompanied by advice and guidance on sound academic practice. QMU staff are also responsible for checking students' work for signs of any inappropriate plagiarism or collusion. Where such malpractice is suspected, either intentional or unintentional, students may be counselled through tutorial guidance, or given a written warning.

Appeal process

Students who are penalised for academic dishonesty through the University's disciplinary procedure will have the option of appealing through the normal QMU appeals process. A word document, setting out details of the appeals process can be found on the QMU Quality A-Z page under the heading Appeals procedure.

Detection, reporting and investigation

Procedures for detecting and handling of suspected cases of plagiarism are underpinned by the following principles:

  • An assumption of innocence until evidence confirms otherwise.
  • Clear lines of responsibility and accountability, with the assessment process being separated from the detection of plagiarism – the person considering whether or not the work is plagiaristic is not involved in the assessment of work, only in determining if and to what extent plagiarism has occurred.
  • Each case is judged only on the evidence available. This is intended to guard against stereotypes, for example, that international students are more likely to plagiarise.
  • Consistency – similar cases will receive similar penalties across a School and across the University.
  • Fairness – there will be equality of treatment, with tutors encouraged to progress suspected cases of plagiarism rather than by-pass measures that may have been seen previously as too draconian for cases of poor academic practice and academic misconduct.
  • Confidentiality –confidential student data will not be disclosed at an Examination Board through members discussion of individual cases in open forum.
  • Timeliness – there will be timely resolution of cases at an appropriate level, especially for cases judged to be minor cases of plagiarism.

For more details, please consult the QMU policy document on plagiarism (entitled 'Plagiarism - guide for academic staff') which can be found on the Quality at QMU Governance and Regulations web page under Policies and Codes of Conduct

Remember that there is support in the university to help you understand the processes. See the Where to find help section for more information.

Turnitin and Similarity Checker Tool

Turnitin is a service that helps you check that your assignment work does not contain plagiarism. You will normally use this service prior to submitting the work for marking.

The Similarity Checker Tool allows you to check draft versions of your work before final submission. 

Please see this page for guides on using and understanding Turnitin and the Similarity Checker Tool: 

Student responsibility

While academic tutors have a responsibility for providing guidance on good scholarship and plagiarism/collusion, students also have responsibilities in their assessments. These responsibilities include ensuring that all sources, published or unpublished, are appropriately cited and referenced.

If students are in any doubt about good scholarship, referencing practice, or plagiarism/collusion, they also have responsibility for seeking suitable guidance. Such advice and guidance is available from programme tutors, QMU's Effective Learning Service and, of course, this website.

Assessment regulations

Given the seriousness of deliberate plagiarism, it has been discussed at length in the relevant QMU Academic forums and the conclusions and formal guidelines are available in Section 21.3 of the assessment regulations document which can be found on the Governance and Regulations section of the QMU Quality webpages.