Frequently Asked Questions
Asking For Help
Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. UC has a range of support services available to help you.
The Academic Skills Centre | Pokapū Pūkenga Ako offers guidance and support to help students succeed academically. Services provided include:
- One-to-one consultations with a learning advisor who can provide help with assignments or a general review of your writing and offer suggestions for improvements;
- Workshops and seminars on topics such as avoiding plagarism, paraphrasing basics, proofreading and time-management; and
- A wide range of resources to help support your studies.
The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Team are based on Level 3, Puaka-James Hight (Central Library) – Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Another source of help are UC’s subject librarians | kaitiaki kaupapa – kaitakawaenga who can help you find resources to complete an assignment and referencing tips. You can also use the UC Library’s instance messaging service AskLive between the hours of 9am and 8.30pm.
If you don’t understand the instructions for an assignment you have been given, firstly check the Learn page for your course as the lecturer may have provide some additional information to help you complete the assignment. If, after checking Learn, you still don’t understand what you need to do, speak with the Course Coordinator or Lecturer. They will be able to help you understand exactly what you need to do to complete the assignment.
No. It’s better to ask for help and to learn from any mistakes you may have made before you submit an assignment. The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre and UC’s subject librarians can also help you.
There may be times when you get sick or something unexpected happens beyond your control which means you cannot submit an assignment on time. In situations such as this help is available and UC can support you through extensions or special considerations.
- If you require an extension contact the Course Coordinator or Lecturer as soon as you recognise you need more time to complete an assignment.
- If your performance is impaired or you are unable to complete an assessment due to extenuating circumstances (such as sickness, an injury or a bereavement) you can apply for a special consideration. There are timeframes within which you need to apply so it’s recommended you apply early.
Yes, Even though the words are yours, the idea has come from someone else and needs to be acknowledged.
Paraphrasing is the changing of someone else’s sentences into your own words. Think of it as a two-stage process which involves 1) changing the sentence structure of the original words and 2) changing most of the words.
The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre have developed a handout to help you with paraphrasing.
In a written assignment you’re likely to use a mixture of both direct quotes and paraphrasing.
Direct quotes should be chosen when:
- you want to me more accurate in what you are describing;
- when what you’re quoting is the text you are analyzing; and/or
- when a direct quote is more concise than a summary or paraphrase would be
- when the author is a particular authority whose exact words would add credibility to your argument
Paraphrasing should be chosen when:
- The original idea is impressive but the language used by the author less so;
- you don’t need the author to add credibility to your argument;
- you need to simplify complex material in a language which will be understood by your audience; and/or
- you want to demonstrate your understanding of an idea; and/or
- you want to avoid the overuse of direct quotes in your written work.
- The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre have developed a handout to help you with referencing.
If the content is from your own personal lecture notes than this should be cited as personal communications. This is because your notes can’t be retrieved by someone else so they should not be included as an entry in a reference list.
You may want to cite works from a class website or Learn. If they are recoverable by your audience then provide the name of the site and its URL. Here’s an example using the APA citation format: Author, A. Publication Year). Name or title of lecture or recording [file format]. Retrieved from URL.
If the information is not publically available then you should cite this as personal communications.
There are a couple of ways you can find an academic (or scholarly) peer-reviewed source.
- Search an article database; there are some databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science, which only contain academic peer-reviewed material. UC’s Subject Librarians will be able to help you find a database for your subject area.
- Limit your search to academic peer-reviewed articles only.
What constitutes cheating?
The work you submit is meant to be your own (unless for example you receive specific instructions that the assessment is a group assessment). Each assessment will have clear instructions which you should follow.
There are 7 main types of cheating, listed below, which can result in a serious breach of academic integrity
Type of cheating
What does this look like?
Copying material / plagarism
Copying the work of another student
Self-plagiarism (i.e. submitting your work multiple times) Representing someone else’s work as your own
Working with others when it is not a group assignment
Providing information to other students
Ghost writing / Contract Cheating
Getting someone else to complete an assignment for you
Using paid-subscription websites for answers
Fabrication of Data
Alerting, deleting or making up data and results
Making up quotes and referencing them
Not following instructions
Writing above a page/word limit or beyond a time limit
Falsely stating you had submitted an assignment
Falsely claiming for extensions or special considerations
Sharing your work or passwords
Doing someone’s work for them
Any form of cheating or academic dishonesty will not be tolerated at UC.
Looking to the internet for answers is something we all do every day and it’s not a surprise that students look to the internet for help. Be aware though that there are websites which encourage students to cheat; sometimes it’s not clear that by using these sites you are cheating.
Some websites offer services which are clearly cheating. Any website which ‘offers’ to complete work
- through the purchase of an assignment from an online site; or
- by getting someone to write your assignment or solving a problem for you; or
- by allowing people to post answers to an assignment or exam to a social media site
should be avoided. This type of cheating is known as ‘contract cheating’ or ‘ghost writing’. If you submit work which has been written by someone else you are cheating. It’s often obvious to the assessor that the work you are submitting is not your own work due to its content, writing style and/or language.
Other websites may appear ok to use and seem to be offering ‘tools’ to help you complete assignments. Using these sites, which often look legitimate and risk-free, is still cheating because you are not doing your own work but using the work of others (which is plagiarism). If you have any doubt, ask your lecturer or the course coordinator.
Often one of the reasons students turn to the internet for ‘help’ is due to poor time management. Remember if you plan your workload and learn good time management techniques you won’t need to cheat in your assignments.
The term “plagiarism” refers to prohibited practices that range from incorrect referencing (such as when a paraphrase, even if referenced, is too similar to the original text) to fraud (when you present someone else’s ideas as your own). Given the wide range of severity of these infractions, sanctions can vary from losing a few marks, to failure on a particular piece of work, to possible expulsion from the university in the most serious cases.
Academic integrity requires that all assessment items are your own work and that they are properly sourced. Plagiarism is not acceptable.
The good news is that plagiarism can be easily avoided if you:
- learn what not to do (i.e cut or paste another person’s work or text from the internet into your own work, pay someone else to write an essay for you or hand in the same piece of assessment for multiple classes) and
- learn what to do (i.e. reference when your use or refer to someone else’s ideas and learn the importance of paraphrasing; and
- leave enough time to do it; allow yourself plenty of time to complete your assignments.
This short video explains more about plagiarism. The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre has created a resource titled ‘Working with academic literature’ to help you avoid plagiarism and also runs a workshop on avoiding plagiarism. They also have resources to help you with referencing and paraphrasing.
Although it can be difficult, you should say no to your friends if they ask for help in a way which would violate UC’s academic integrity standards. Perhaps someone with whom you are working in a group wants to ‘use’ your assignment or a friend suggests you complete an online test or exam together. Be aware that if you allow another student to copy your work then facilitating the cheating is considered as bad as the cheating itself, and the penalties for our involvement with be the same as the student who copied.
We know saying ‘no’ isn’t easy. It’s not easy if it’s a good friend you know really well nor is it any easier if it’s someone you’ve been asked to work with on a group assignment who you don’t really know. Saying no is the best thing you can do though to stop someone from cheating and to protect yourself.
Be honest and say that the request makes you uncomfortable and let your friend/fellow student know that they are breaching UC’s academic integrity standards.
You can suggest, if there having a problem, that they go speak with their lecturer or contact the Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre. If your friend is having a difficult time they may be able to ask their lecturer for an extension or apply for a special consideration.
Saying no won’t always be an easy conversation. If things don’t go as planned and you feel that you are being bullied or harassed UC has a ‘Prevention of Harassment and Bullying Policy’. You don’t need to suffer and help is available if you need it.
You should never share your passwords (for your personal computer, your UC login, and your login to Learn) with anyone. If you do, this could enable someone to breach academic integrity as they could use your password to access and copy your work and submit it as their own.
UC’s IT Policy Framework specifically states that ‘You must not use or acquire the credentials (usercode and password) of others, or attempt to impersonate them, or reveal your credentials to others. If you do give your credentials to another, then you remain responsible for the activities undertaken using those credentials’.
Make sure your password is not shared and don’t write it down in a place where it can easily be accessed by others. If you do suspect someone has your password, change it as soon as possible.
If you suspect that some of your fellow students have cheated and you have concerns about others’ academic integrity, in the first instance, speak to the relevant Course Coordinator.
Whilst it might seem best not to get involved, the students concerned are potentially conducting themselves in a way that is not in line with UC’s values. You don’t have to confront the students yourself – you can contact the Course Coordinator confidentially and they will start an initial investigation about the claim.
If you are suspected of cheating or an academic dishonesty you will be given the opportunity to explain your actions to usually the Head of School/Department or the Department’s Discipline Delegate.
If the offence is considered serious then it may be referred to a UC Proctor and/or the Discipline Committee for investigation.
Further information about investigations by UC Proctors and the Discipline Committee can be found in the following documents:
- Academic Integrity Guidance for Staff and Students
- Discipline Regulations
- Academic Integrity and Breach of Instruction Regulations
Throughout this process you may be accompanied by a support person. A support person could be a family member, friend or classmate or USCA Student Advocate or any member of your community who you choose.
If you do commit any breach of academic integrity its best to be honest and tell the truth. By denying the truth you could find yourself in more trouble than had you been truthful.
If you do admit to cheating or the case has been proven then your name will be added to the Discipline Register.
If you are investigated by a UC Proctor and/or the Discipline Committee and found to have engaged in dishonest or improper practice then a range of penalties may be applied. Examples of penalties include a fine, reprimand, the award of an X grade for the course or expulsion from UC.
If the decision is that no misconduct has been committed then no further action will be taken against you.
All students have the right of appeal to a decision and all decisions will be advised in writing.
Turnitin is an originality checking and plagiarism prevention service which checks a written assignment for appropriate citations and inappropriate copying. When a written assessment is submitted via Learn, Turnitin will compare it to text stored within a massive database of student work, websites, books and articles etc. A similarity score and report is generated when you submit your work via Learn. The report will be available to both you and your lecturer
Turnitin is used at UC to provide assurance about the academic integrity of students work. It is also a useful tool to educate students about the importance of citation and referencing techniques. If misconduct is suspected as a result of using Turnitin, information from the use of Turnitin itself would not determine any wrongdoing. The information would be considered within the wider context of UC’s Academic Integrity Guidance for Staff and Students.
If you require any help using Turnitin or have any questions please contact your course co-ordinator or lecturer. Further information about assignments and Turnitin can be found on the e-Learning help for students page of Learn.
The person who marked your work (i.e your lecturer, tutor or teaching assistant)
Similarity reports provide a summary of matching or highly similar text found in a submitted assignment. If you are able to view the similarity report a similarity score percentage will be given.
The colour of the report icon is an indicator of the similarity score, based on the amount of matching or similar text that was uncovered. The percentage range is 0% to 100% and the ranges are as follows:
No matching text
One word to 24% matching text
25 to 49% matching text
50 to 74% matching text
75 to 100% matching text
Note this is not a plagarism score but a matching score. The score shows how much of your assignment matches other text. The similarity report is a useful tool to help you identify where you need to improve your academic writing skills. The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre is a good place to go for help.
Further information about the similarity score can be found here
You access Turnitin via Learn. It will be accessible when you submit your assignment.
So long as you have not copied over large chunks of text and have properly referenced your sources, a high Turnitin score does not mean you have done anything wrong. If you do copy text and don’t give it recognition that is when you may be considered to have cheated.
To reduce a high Turnitin score it is recommended that you check that:
- You have used quotation marks (“….”) for every quote and that you have cited your sources
- You are not over-using quotations; and
- Your own words are not too similar to the original text.
A low Turnitin score may be an indicator that you have not sufficiently included enough references. You should review your work and check to see that you have acknowledged all sources.
It could mean though that you have made good use of paraphrasing and rewritten the words of others in your own words. Paraphrasing is not included in a Turnitin score.
Many academic integrity issues stem from students being unsure about academic integrity, and simply running out of time to do an assignment. Especially in your first year of study you may underestimate how much work is involved with university study.
You should consider university study as being like a full time job. If you take four 15 point courses per semester (a full time study load) this means you are studying a total of 60 points. Each point of study is equivalent to 10 hours of study so, over the course of a semester, this would be equivalent to 600 total hours or about 40 hours per week.
Learning how to manage your time is critical for success. In addition to studying you may also, for example, be caring for dependents and whānau, in paid employment and be involved in extra-curricular activities. If you learn good time management techniques then the chances are you won’t need to cheat in your assignments by copying the work of a friend or plagiarising information. Cheating can have serious consequences.
The Pokapū Pūkenga Ako |Academic Skills Centre can help you with time management. Enrol in one of their Time Management courses or get one of their free 2021 wall planners which you can use to plan your work and map out assignment deadlines and exams.
Yes, there are different rules and regulations for exams which you need to be aware about.
- Start times and entry to formal examinations;
- What you can take with you in an exam and expect to see when you enter the exam room; and
- What will happen during an examination.
It’s really important to read the exam instructions ahead of an exam and familiarise yourself with their content. Failure to do so could mean you breach the exam instructions and commit an academic integrity offence.
If you have any questions about the exam regulations or instructions speak to the Examinations Office.