Fraud and plagiarism
As a student, you train to be an independently thinking professional and scientist. This requires an academic work attitude, for which you learn to trust your own critical ability and be judged on your own performance. Knowingly or unknowingly committing fraud doesn’t match the future professional you are striving to become. To help you prevent fraud, we have put together the most important information on fraud and plagiarism. We hope this will help you find the right support, tips, tricks, and resources to successfully pass your courses - without cheating.
Fraud may be tempting at times, but it’s not sustainable - you are only cheating yourself. When caught, your work will be declared invalid, or even have consequences for the entire class if you cheat together with others. Also, you can be sanctioned with exclusion from one or all exams for up to one year. And for the severest of cases: expulsion.
But do you actually know when something is considered fraud? You might already have an idea: when the work you submit isn’t your own, it constitutes to plagiarism or fraud. Also, there’s collusion or making up research data.
You commit fraud when you or others make it impossible to assess your knowledge. This sounds maybe a bit cryptic. But let us examine it. When an examiner cannot establish if you or another person handed in original and self-generated work, the examiner cannot give a grade because it is not your or their actual knowledge they are assessing. This could for example happen if another student copies your work: your work is original, but because the other person copies it, not only your fellow student, but you will also be suspected of attempted fraud.
We all know that some students cheat intentionally. But others cheat because of ignorance, carelessness, or because they succumb to pressure. Could that happen to you? How much do you really know about academic fraud? If you are new at VU Amsterdam, you can prevent unintentional fraud by reading and applying the rules:
- The VU Amsterdam Student Charter;
- The Education and Exam arrangements of your faculty;
- Copyright and citation rules.
It’s important to know and understand these because even if you don’t, you can still be held accountable.
What are the consequences?
Do you know what happens when you do cheat? You may not find cheating very tempting when you know the possible consequences. When you are caught, your work will be declared invalid. The sanction is determined on an individual basis and details vary across faculties, but all students risk one of these sanctions:
- A reprimand;
- Exclusion from the examination for this particular course;
- Exclusion from all examinations for up to one year;
- In a worst-case scenario, you can even be expelled from VU Amsterdam.
- If large-scale fraud is suspected, an exam can be declared invalid for the entire class. So, fraud doesn’t just affect you, it can also hurt others.
If you get your degree through fraud or cheating, then you are setting yourself up for failure academically. This is because you have not acquired the knowledge, skills, and certainly not the academic competencies and attitude needed to be successful in life. You will have trouble taking more advanced courses, and you may have problems in your professional life or academic career. What's more, should it later come to light that you have wrongfully obtained a degree, there will be major consequences for yourself and also the value of degrees from the institution as a whole.
No need for panic
If you know the rules you can act accordingly and prevent suspicion of fraud. If at some point you are suspected of fraud, there is no need to panic. A suspicion of fraud does not always result in a ‘guilty’ verdict. You will get the opportunity to give a statement before any judgement is made.
Know the difference between peer learning and cheating
Peer teaching and peer learning are important and effective study strategies for students. However, giving a completed assignment to a friend who then copies content from your assignment, is not peer teaching. And copying answers is not peer learning.
Unintentionally or otherwise, by passing on the assignment to a fellow student you enabled cheating, and therefore you committed a violation. Even if you did not give permission to your friend to copy your work.
How can it be avoided?
Peer learning should be encouraged, since it helps students to learn how to teach. Instructors should explain effective peer teaching strategies such as working in pairs, sharing comments on their work, and brainstorming solutions to problems in groups. Sharing completed work, however, is not an acceptable peer learning technique and gives grounds to suspect you of academically dishonest behaviour.