So, you've been accused of academic misconduct. It's time to write your response statement, and we're here to guide you through it.
What's an academic misconduct allegation response statement?
It's your chance to explain your side of the story when someone accuses you of academic misconduct. You get to give your perspective and provide context. If there was a mistake, you can explain why it happened or clarify any misunderstandings.
What should you include in your response? Here are some tips:
- Be honest. It's crucial to tell the truth and own up to any mistakes. If you admit your errors, the misconduct panel will take that into consideration when deciding on a penalty. Denying the allegation and being found guilty can make the offense more serious. Admitting the offense doesn't mean you did it on purpose, though.
- Show understanding of your mistakes. You need to demonstrate to the panel that you understand what went wrong, how it happened, and what steps you're taking to prevent it from happening again. For example, you can mention attending academic skills sessions or retaking a module on academic integrity.
- Explain the circumstances surrounding the mistake. Provide the panel with the context of your situation. If you unintentionally committed an offense due to exceptional circumstances, explain and provide evidence of those circumstances and how they affected your work and ability to seek support. For instance, you might have been dealing with significant stress or mental health difficulties that impaired your judgment.
- Consider other factors that might have contributed to the offense. Did you apply for extenuating circumstances or mitigation? Do you have an Individual Learning Plan (ILP)? Do you have a disability or learning difference and were you receiving academic support? Did you miss any important sessions on academic integrity? Did you discuss the issue with a staff member? Were you coerced?
- Clarify whether the offense was intentional or accidental. If there was intent to deceive, explain why. If it was accidental, describe how it happened.
- Be clear in your statement. You can use bullet points, write in chronological order, and break up sections into paragraphs. Base your statement on evidence and objective facts.
- Provide evidence to support your statement. Label, date, and refer to your evidence clearly in the statement. For example, you can say, "As you can see from [evidence_name_01], I contacted [name, job title] on [dd/mm/yyyy]."
- Include full names and job titles of all people mentioned, such as Jeff Goldblum, Module Leader for [module, course].
- Depending on the allegation, different types of evidence may be required. Some examples include:
- Reports from plagiarism detection software
- Witness statements
- Suspected sources of plagiarism
- Academic integrity reports
- Previous work samples
- Research notes
- Medical evidence
- Police reports
- Summaries of support needs
- Extenuating circumstances/mitigation information.
- Explain your understanding of academic misconduct. Describe what you initially understood it to be and how your understanding has evolved after reading the report or seeking additional help, like attending academic skills sessions or retaking a module on academic integrity.
- If you didn't commit the offense, remember that it's the provider's responsibility to prove the allegation. While you don't need to prove your innocence, providing evidence such as your notes and drafts of the work can support your case.
Remember, the outcomes of investigations are based on the "Balance of Probabilities." This means the panel will consider whether it's more likely than not that the offense occurred. So, it's essential to be clear, honest, and provide evidence to back up your points. If you lack evidence, the panel might lean toward believing the offense happened due to the absence of proof. However, the panel can't conclude an offense occurred without evidence either.