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Utilizing Authorship Investigation

We recognize that changing an academic misconduct policy can be a time consuming process. Authorship Investigation offers the opportunity to address contract cheating and provides evidence to improve and refine the outcome.


Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 14.37.59.pngA suggested workflow for combating contract cheating


Investigating suspected contract cheating is the opportune time for Authorship Investigation to be incorporated into a university’s academic misconduct case management.


The Authorship Investigation tool helps to gather evidence that will confirm or refute suspicions and provide a recommendation on whether an interview should be held.


Interviewing the student will help to determine the outcome of a contract cheating allegation; however, this is also the most resource intensive step in the process.


An instructor or marker identifies an abnormality in a student’s work. When a submission is identified as being suspicious, it should be escalated to the appropriate body or individual; this could be an academic integrity officer or board, the course coordinator, or the dean. This individual or group would then take on the role of investigator.


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Common warning flags to look out for

Authorship Investigation

The suspicious paper should be uploaded to Authorship Investigation for evidence gathering; this is referred to as an investigation file. The paper under investigation can be compared to up to ten pieces work by the student. These pieces of known work are referred to as comparison files. The report will deliver a recommendation on whether further investigation is required.



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Evidence the report will supply


For more information on what results the Authorship Report contains, check out the guidance.


If there is significant evidence found during analysis of the Authorship Report, an interview with the student should be organized.


The interview shouldn’t be an attempt to catch the student out, rather an exploratory discussion about the student’s writing process and an opportunity for them to explain any identified inconsistencies.


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Questions to ask during an interview


If the student cannot answer the above questions, this is strong evidence that a student may not have authored their submitted paper. If the evidence is strong enough, the interview is an opportunity for the student to admit their academic misconduct and explain their reasons.


For help with interpreting the Authorship Report, and some advice on what questions you could ask for each section, check out the interpretation guidance.


As academic misconduct is a sensitive topic, every institution will handle their hearings differently.


An example of how to conduct a hearing is detailed below:


If the investigation and interview provide sufficient evidence to confirm that academic misconduct has occurred, the student should be invited to attend a hearing in front of the appropriate board at which the outcome of the investigation will be announced.


The evidence gathered from the Authorship Report and interview will be presented; the student may also be asked to give a statement explaining the reason for their misconduct. The board or committee will then determine a sanction or penalty depending on the severity of the report results and the attitude and/or admission of the student.

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