There are occasions where a student's work might show indications of a breach of academic integrity conventions, but it is decided that this represents poor academic practice.
It is important for teachers to notice and respond to instances of academic misconduct such as plagiarism when they occur, even if they are fairly sure that the conduct is the result of lack of awareness or skill in the appropriate acknowledgement practices and academic literacies. Poor academic practice is not as serious a finding as academic misconduct and will not be recorded as 'misconduct' in the central database against the student's name.
However, the Faculties are expected to keep records of findings of poor academic practice in their local register. This is so that Academic Integrity Officers (AIOs) may check to see if a student has previously been reported for a similar activity, and has already had the relatively light penalties imposed, including an educational intervention.
If the AIO finds that the student has a previous record for poor academic practice in the local register, and the student is still exhibiting the same kind of conduct, then the new case may get escalated to academic misconduct.
There are a number of different reasons why someone investigating a case of alleged academic misconduct might decide that the student's actions could be called poor academic practice.
- if it is the student's first offence
- if the student is in their first year
- if the student has only just started studying in Australia
- if the conduct relates to a fairly minor matter of referencing
- if there is other compelling evidence that the conduct arose from a genuine lack of understanding of academic integrity expectations
Poor academic practice should only be found where the alleged academic misconduct is not extensive, blatant or does not result from an obvious lack of effort overall. In such cases, the Subject Coordinator, AIO or Investigation Committee must impose a poor academic practice outcome in response to the student’s conduct to educate the student on correct academic practice. The main educational intervention will be the Academic Integrity Module (AIM), although a range of other possible outcomes may also be imposed, ranging from resubmitting the assessment task to a loss of marks.
The Academic Misconduct (Coursework) Procedures outlines the process for investigation as well as possible penalties or outcomes for confirmed instances of academic misconduct.