Chapter 13 - Research Misconduct: Procedure for Graduate Research Students suspected of Research Misconduct

This Procedure is applicable for alleged Research Misconduct by students only. It does not cover alleged Research Misconduct by staff the Procedure for which is available here. For guidance or advice on the procedure please contact the Student Cases Office on 01392 725810 or studentcases@exeter.ac.uk.

Students needing help with their own case should contact the Students’ Guild Advice Unit on advice@exeterguild.com in Exeter and advice@fxu.org.uk in Cornwall. 

  1. General Principles
    1. The University fully subscribes to the ideals set out in the ‘Concordat to Support Research Integrity’ and the UKRI's ‘Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research’. The University takes academic integrity very seriously and expects all researchers to conduct themselves accordingly, and in line with the University’s ‘Code of Practice in the Conduct of Research’. The University promotes a culture of research integrity, and encourages students to discuss this with their supervisory team. Research misconduct does not include honest error, or honest differences in interpretation or judgement in evaluating research methods or results. The University offers an online training course about Research Integrity online here on ELE.
    2. The Student Cases Office will have oversight of all cases of Research Misconduct by students in order that they can carry out the University’s reporting requirements. This will include responding to requests for information under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.
    3. All instances of research misconduct by students should be investigated consistently within and between Colleges and the Student Cases Office. All decisions taken under this Procedure should consider evidence on the basis of balance of probability and take full account of natural justice, fairness and equity.
    4. This procedure shall apply to all currently registered students and alumni of the University. For students who are also members of staff the following definition contained in 3.4 of the Misconduct in Research annex to the University’s Procedure of Good Practice on Research shall apply: ‘in the case of a researcher who is both a member of staff and a student, the University will make a decision on which is the appropriate procedure to follow, taking account of the circumstances of the case and, in particular, whether research is a paramount part of the individual’s employment.’
    5. All students will be given the opportunity to submit a defence. This may be in writing and/or in person. However, a student cannot prevent a hearing from taking place by refusing to attend or by failing to submit evidence. A meeting may proceed as long as reasonable steps have been taken to allow the student to submit evidence.
    6. All allegations of research misconduct should be considered without unnecessary delay, and students should be kept informed of any delays to proceedings.
    7. Any penalty imposed should be proportionate to the seriousness of the misconduct. Evidence of an intention to gain advantage, deliberate falsification, or an intention to deceive will be considered as aggravating factors in determining the severity of the offence and the penalty.
    8. If, after investigation, no case of Research Misconduct is found against a student, the student’s record as held by the College and Student Records will not contain reference to the allegation. Where a case is proven, the outcome and the penalty will be placed on their record held by the College and Student Records.
    9. Information on proven cases of Research Misconduct will be available to staff who are asked to provide references for students.
    10. The University provides guidance on appropriate penalties for cases of Research Misconduct (see section 10). However, each College or Research Misconduct Panel will have discretion in the penalty they choose to apply, providing that a clear written record is kept of the reasons for doing so.
    11. The University does not consider mitigation in cases of research misconduct unless clinical evidence is provided showing that the student’s judgment was affected in such a way as to lead directly to the misconduct. Students presenting such evidence should be immediately referred to the Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study procedure, and all research misconduct proceedings suspended until any health and wellbeing issues have been addressed.
    12. The University may be legally obliged to inform the student’s sponsor, funder, Research Council, employer, partner institution, or professional regulatory body of action taken under this procedure.The University may be required to inform certain Research Councils as soon as any informal investigation is to take place, with the subsequent formal investigation stages and the outcome being communicated to the Research Council once any investigation is completed.
    13. The University may also determine that it is appropriate to inform the student’s sponsor, funder, Research Council, employer, partner institution, or professional regulatory body or other party of action taken under this procedure. Furthermore, where a complaint of research misconduct has been made against a student by another person, then the University reserves the right to inform that individual of the outcome of the investigation.
    14. Where the person under investigation has published the offending material in the name of a particular institution, or may have undertaken whole or part of the work at a particular institution, then the University reserves the right to inform that institution.
    15. Any allegations raised under this Procedure may also result in the student being subject to the ‘Fitness to Practise Procedures’.
  2. Definitions
    Submission
    1. Graduate Research Students should be aware that any work submitted to a member of their supervisory team either in full, in part, or as a draft will fall under the provisions of this Procedure, as will any work handed to a member of staff. For the purposes of this Procedure work may be defined as, but not limited to, material submitted to a supervisor, or in a thesis, publication, public presentation, poster, website, grant proposal etc related to their programme of study, or submitted as a student of the University. For the purposes of some of the offences under this Procedure, any data created for the purposes of the student’s studies will also fall under the remit of this Procedure.
    2. Should a student submit work to an external body which was undertaken whilst a student at the University and Research Misconduct is detected, or should Research Misconduct be detected in any work the student is intending to submit for an award of the University, then the University will take action under this Procedure, as if the work had been submitted to the student’s supervisory team.

      Research Misconduct

      Research Misconduct includes but is not limited to:
    3. Fabrication: with the intention of deceiving, the creation of false data or other aspects of research or assessed work, including but not limited to documentation and participant consent.
    4. Falsification: with the intention of deceiving, the inappropriate manipulation and/or selection of data, imagery, and/or consents.
    5. Plagiarism: with the intention of deceiving, the act of representing work or ideas as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement or referencing. There are three main types of plagiarism, which could occur:-

      a) Direct copying of text or illustrations from a webpage, book, article, thesis, handout, fellow student's work, or other source without proper acknowledgement. This includes extracting sections of text from another source, and merely linking these together with a few of one's own sentences or words. This does not mean that direct quotes from other texts cannot be used, but that these should be placed in quotation marks and referenced so that the reader understands that they are not the student’s own words.

      b) Claiming individual ideas derived from a book, article etc. as one's own, and incorporating them into one's work without acknowledging the source of those ideas. This includes paraphrasing a source, or altering the material taken from the source, so it appears to be one’s own work.

      c) The re-submission or re-use of the student’s own work in another assignment whether this was submitted and approved for an award or for which the student received credit (i.e. for a module but which did not lead to an award) at the University of Exeter or any other academic institution worldwide except where the incorporation of previous work into a larger argument is permitted under Section 2, ‘Content of the Thesis/Dissertation’ in the ‘Presentation of Theses/Dissertations for Degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Research: Statement of Procedures’.
    6. Collusion: working with another on a piece of work (when not specifically directed to do so), where neither recognises the other’s contribution, in an attempt to deceive others into thinking the work is one person’s alone. Collusion can also be taken to mean the act of not informing the relevant authorities that another is undertaking research misconduct, or actively covering up the misconduct of another. This includes using a ghost writer. Note that students may have their work proof-read or copy edited in order to correct the English, though not to have it corrected for ideas or academic content.
    7. Misrepresentation. This includes, knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence1:

      a) Misrepresentation of data in work including withholding or suppression of relevant findings and/or data, (e.g. ‘cherry picking’) or presenting a flawed interpretation of data without acknowledging its weaknesses.
      b) Undisclosed duplication of publication, including undisclosed duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication.
      c) Misrepresentation of interests, including failure to declare material interests either of the researcher or of the funders of the research and this includes appropriate acknowledgement of sources of funding where appropriate.
      d) Misrepresentation of qualifications and/or experience, including claiming or implying qualifications or experience which are not held.
      e) Misrepresentation of involvement, such as inappropriate claims to authorship and/or attribution of work (including reports, publication, seminar and conference presentations, posters, web pages etc.) where there has been no significant contribution, or the denial of authorship where an author has made a significant contribution.
    8. Breach of University, research funders’, or publishers’ codes and policies on ethics, data management (including open access) and peer review:

      This list is illustrative, and is not exhaustive:

      a) disclosing improperly the identity of individuals or groups involved in research without their consent, or other breach of confidentiality;
      b) placing any of those involved in research in danger, whether as subjects, participants or associated individuals, without their prior consent, and without appropriate safeguards even with consent; this includes reputational danger where that can be anticipated;
      c) not taking all reasonable care to ensure that the risks and dangers, the broad objectives and the sponsors of the research are known to participants or their legal representatives, to ensure appropriate informed consent is obtained properly, explicitly and transparently;
      d) not observing legal and reasonable ethical requirements or obligations of care for animal subjects, human organs or tissue used in research, or for the protection of the environment;
      e) improper conduct in peer review of research proposals or results (including manuscripts submitted for publication); this includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; f) inadequate disclosure of clearly limited competence; misappropriation of the content of material; and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for peer review purposes;
      f) failure to manage data according to the research funder’s data policy and all relevant legislation;
      g) failure to keep clear and accurate records appropriate to the research being conducted.
      h) failure to adhere to data storage requirements, including taking data off campus where this is not permitted. This also includes adherence with any requirements stipulated as part of ethics approval.
  3. References to Persons and Offices
    1. Where the procedures refer to University officers and members of staff, it is standard practice that such procedures may, where appropriate, be handled through an appropriate person nominated by the stated officer/staff member to act on their behalf.
    2. In the cases below where the Student Cases Office is referenced, they are acting on the delegated authority of the Director of Compliance, Governance and Risk.
    3. Where reference is made to the Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer, the Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer can appoint the College Director of Postgraduate Research (DPGR) to act as their nominee. Where neither the ADR nor the DPGR is appropriate, for example because they are the student’s supervisor or PGR pastoral tutor, then another senior member of the College should be appointed to fulfil the ADR’s role.
    4. Where reference is made to the Dean of the Faculty of Postgraduate Research, the Dean of the Faculty of Postgraduate Research’s role can be fulfilled by the Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research or the Academic Dean for Students, where appropriate. Where neither Dean is appropriate, for example they are the student’s supervisor or PGR pastoral tutor, they must delegate their role to an Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer.
    5. Throughout this document, references to students also refer to alumni of the University in respect of work undertaken whilst a student of the University or submitted for an award of the University.
    6. Throughout this Chapter at formal meetings reference is made to the Student's supporter. The Student's Supporter will normally be a member of the University, or Guild of Students and the role is defined as follows; the Supporter is there to provide moral support to the Student and to support the Student with asking and answering questions during the meeting. They may also take notes of the meeting for the Student. The Student is expected to speak for themselves, and there is no automatic right for the Supporter to address the Committee. Should a Supporter act beyond this definition, then the chair may suspend the meeting and ask the Supporter to leave, in the event that the Student is unable to continue the meeting in the absence of the Supporter, then the meeting will continue in the absence of the Student, based on the verbal evidence heard to date and the written documentation. Should the Supporter be asked to leave this meeting, this will not affect the attendance of others at the meeting such as the marker, any witness of the College Representative.
  4. Responsibilities
    1. Responsibilities of the University

      a) The University will ensure that all procedures and policies that relate to Research Misconduct are fit for purpose and widely available to both staff and students.
      b) The University will ensure that all staff involved in handling Research Misconduct cases have access to appropriate support.
      c) The University will support Colleges in developing methods to reduce incidences of Research Misconduct.
      d) The University will ensure that students have access to appropriate levels of information, advice and guidance to ensure adherence with the ‘Code of Practice in the Conduct of Research’ and to support students if Research Misconduct is proven against them.
      e) The University will keep records of all proven cases of Research Misconduct, providing annual reports to the Board of the Faculty of Graduate Research and Senate.
    2. Responsibilities of Colleges

      a) All Colleges will ensure that they have appropriate arrangements in place in order to comply with the requirements set out in this Procedure. All Colleges will follow these procedures when handling cases of suspected Research Misconduct.
      b) All Colleges will provide students with training and guidance on Research Conduct.
      c) All Colleges will ensure that the information provided in their Handbooks includes information on Research Conduct.
      d) All Colleges will ensure that supervisors are appropriately supported should they suspect Research Misconduct within a student’s work.
      e) Responsibility for this Procedure’s implementation by Colleges rests with the Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer.
    3. Responsibilities of the Student

      a) Each student shall operate in accordance with the University’s ‘Code of Good Practice in the Conduct of Research’ at all times.
      b) Each student shall familiarise themselves with the ‘Code of Good Practice in the Conduct of Research’, the definitions contained with these procedures, their College/discipline specific guidance, and any further guidelines specific to their area of research, taking advantage of training and seeking further guidance from their supervisory team as necessary.
      c) All Students will complete the required training on ELE on Research Intergrity.
  5. Procedures for Dealing with Suspected Research Misconduct: College Research Misconduct Panel

    Reporting Concerns
    1. Should a supervisor suspect that a student has committed Research Misconduct, they should in the first instance raise this with the other members of the supervisory team, and if they still have concerns after doing so, they should report this to the ADR or DPGR for the student’s College.
    2. Should a College upgrade committee suspect there is any form of research misconduct, as defined in Section 2, within a student’s work, which has been submitted for upgrade, the College upgrade committee should immediately refer the student’s work to the ADR or DPGR, with a report of their concerns. The ADR or DPGR shall then investigate the allegations as outlined below.
    3. If Research Misconduct is suspected in a student’s work for a module (other than the main thesis/dissertation) this should be brought to the attention of the module convenor first who will inform the ADR or DPGR as per 5.1 above.
    4. In all other instances where a person has reason to suspect that a student may be guilty of research misconduct as defined above they should report this directly to the ADR or DPGR of the student’s College immediately. Students are also encouraged to report any witnessed or suspected incident of research misconduct by staff, students or other researchers. In accordance with the University’s policy and procedure on Public Interest Disclosure (‘whistleblowing’), individuals who raise concerns in good faith will not be penalised or disadvantaged for doing so.
    5. In all instances allegations should be reported in writing, setting out exactly what the concerns are, and how this amounts to research misconduct.

      Investigation of Suspected Research Misconduct
    6. The ADR or DPGR on receipt of an allegation of research misconduct has the discretion to consider whether an investigation is required or not. The ADR or DPGR can review the allegations and determine whether a full investigation is required in which case they continue under 5.7 or if the concern is such that the ADR/DPGR is satisfied that this can be resolved immediately with a meeting with the student and no investiogation is required then they may move immediately to section 5.9 by proceeding to meet with the student. The ADR or DPGR, may undertake initial investigatory steps to establish the credibility of such an allegation, such steps should be limited to purely establishing whether the allegation is credible or not. Should an allegation be determined to not be credible then the ADR or DPGR can determine that there are no further steps to take under this procedure. 
    7. The ADR or DPGR should write to the student as soon as possible, informing them that an allegation of research misconduct has been made, and that the matter is being investigated. If the ADR or DPGR has determined that an investigation is required they may decide to inform the student of the allegation once preparations have been made to conduct interviews. This is to prevent unnecessary impact on the student's wellbeing.They should inform the student in writing that they may wish to contact their PGR pastoral tutor and/or the Students’ Guild Advice Unit for advice and support.
    8. The ADR or DPGR should then investigate the concerns raised. This may involve the appointment of a member (or members) of staff, who have knowledge of the issues or activities under investigation and who are independent and objective, to support that investigation. This will include examination of all relevant documentation, data and materials. It may also include interviews with the student, and other individuals who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations. Notes of each interview will be kept; a statement prepared by the individual interviewed may also be produced.
    9. All individuals interviewed during the investigation will be asked to respect the confidential nature of the investigation. A request for anyone attending for interview to be accompanied by another student, staff member, a member of staff of the Students’ Guild /FXU shall not be unreasonably refused. At the investigation stage it is the discreteion of the ADR/DPGR to determine what information needs to be disclosed to determine the validity of the allegation. The ADR/DPGR should give individuals' asked to attend interviews a minimum of 48 hours' notice, however this may be waived in circumstsanaces whereby individuals' safety or Wellbeing is put at risk of not conducting the interviews sooner. 

      Outcomes of the Investigation
    10. The purpose of the investigation is to gather evidence and to enable a decision to be taken on whether the matter should proceed to a formal hearing under the appropriate procedure. The University aims to complete the College stage of the process within one calendar month, and if unable to do so, will update the subject of the investigation with an approximate timetable for completion of the investigation.
    11. Following completion of the investigation the ADR/DPGR or Panel reviewing the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation may determine that there is no case for further consideration, that it is not sufficiently serious to merit referral to a University Research Misconduct Panel, or that it should be referred to a University Research Misconduct Panel. The list of outcomes under section 10 (below) should be referred to when considering whether or not a case merits referral to a University Research Misconduct Panel. The ADR/DPGR or Panel may seek advice from the Student Cases Office in determining the appropriate outcome.
    12. Where there is sufficient evidence to indicate misconduct requiring consideration by a University Research Misconduct Panel, the ADR/DPGR or Panel may refer the matter to the Student Cases Office immediately upon conclusion of the initial informal investigation or upon conclusion of the formal College investigation, with the recommendation that a University Research Misconduct Panel be held.
    13. Where the conclusion is to immediately refer the case to a University Research Misconduct Pnael, the ADR or DPGR is not required to meet with the student to explain their conclusions, but can instead inform them of this conclusion by letter.  

      Meeting with the Student
    14. Where the case is not referred for a University Research Misconduct Panel, the ADR or DPGR should meet with the student to explain their conclusions. Where additional members of staff had been appointed to investigate the matter it may also be appropriate for them to attend this meeting, particularly where they bring specific expertise.
    15. The student cannot prevent a meeting from happening by refusing to attend providing they have been given at least five working days’ notice of the meeting. Should the student fail to attend the meeting it should continue in their absence. The meeting may be postponed should the student be able to demonstrate that they would be unable to attend for a good reason (which may include previously approved absences from the University, where this remained appropriate, for example fieldwork or a conference.)
    16. The student should be sent a summary of the allegations against them, any submission or data relevant to the allegation, and any information that is relevant to the allegation which was discovered during the investigation to date, including any notes of interviews. This must be sent five working days in advance of the meeting. The student is entitled to submit a written statement and accompanying evidence ahead of the meeting provided that this is received no later than one working day ahead of the meeting.
    17. The student has the right to attend the meeting and be accompanied by a supporter, as defined in 3.6, who should be a member of the University, such as a staff member, a member of staff of the Students’ Guild/FXU or another student. Any variation on this principle should be approved by the ADR or DPGR. The purpose of this person is to support the student during the course of the meeting, and they may take a written record on the student’s behalf. They should not, however, speak for the student. The use of electronic recording devices will not normally be permitted. Proxies for the student are not permitted; neither can the student be represented in their absence.
    18. At the meeting the ADR or DPGR should outline the allegations against the student, and explain how this could amount to Research Misconduct. The student should be given a chance to respond. A record of the meeting must be kept by an administrator.
    19. The student should be notified of the outcome of the investigation in writing within five working days of it's conclusion. The formal report, which should be copied to the student’s supervisors, PGR pastoral tutor and the Student Cases Office, will be then sent in due course. Where a penalty has been applied, the student may appeal the outcome, once the formal report is received, as outlined in section 9 (below).
    20. If the allegation of suspected Research Misconduct was referred to the ADR or DPGR by a College upgrade committee, the formal report must make clear to the student the impact of the outcome on their ability to apply for upgrade. Where the student is required to resubmit work, the works must be deemed satisfactory before any further opportunity for upgrade is given, which will also be dependent on the student’s deadline for upgrade.
    21. Where a case of Research Misconduct is referred to the Student Cases Office, this must take the form of a report outlining the allegations against the student and the steps taken to investigate the allegations, attaching any material gathered in the course of the investigation, including the notes of all meetings that have taken place. Colleges may wish to use the report form in Annex 1 as a guide. This should be sent to studentcases@exeter.ac.uk.
  6. Procedure for Dealing with Suspected Research Misconduct identified by the Board of Examiners.
    1. If an Examiner is concerned that they may have identified evidence of Research Misconduct as defined in Section 2 (above) they should report this to the other members of the Board of Examiners without delay. The Internal Examiner will inform the ADR or DPGR as a matter of urgency and submit a report identifying the areas of concern.
    2. Upon receipt of the report, the ADR or DPGR will write to the student, as soon as reasonably possible, informing them of the allegations and cancelling the viva, if one was due to take place, and informing the student that this matter will be referred to the Student Cases Office, as any suspected Research Misconduct in the final thesis/dissertation is sufficiently serious to warrant referral to the Student Cases Office. The ADR or DPGR should copy this notification to the student’s PGR pastoral tutor and supervisors as appropriate.
    3. Where the Board of Examiners identifies suspected research misconduct during the viva they should continue with the viva. Following the viva the Internal Examiner should immediately contact the ADR or DPGR to report that concerns had arisen during the viva about suspected research misconduct. They should then prepare a detailed report outlining their concerns and submit this report to the ADR or DPGR as agreed with the ADR or DPGR.
    4. The ADR or DPGR will then refer the case to the Student Cases Office including a copy of the Board of Examiner’s report.
  7. Procedures for Dealing with Suspected Research Misconduct: University Stage
    1. The Student Cases Office, upon receipt of a report from the ADR or DPGR, will appoint an investigating officer who will consider the case with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Research.
    2. The Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Research and the investigating officer shall review the report and accompanying documentation, and may request additional paperwork or comment from the College concerned. They will direct a University Research Misconduct Panel to be held. In exceptional cases, where the evidence does not warrant holding a University Research Misconduct Panel, the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Research may refer the case back to the College.
  8. Procedure for a University Research Misconduct Panel
    1. A Research Misconduct Panel shall comprise the Dean of the Faculty of Postgraduate Research, who shall chair the panel, and two of either ADRs/DPGRs or Discipline Director of PGR who have not previously been involved with the case, and who are not from the same discipline as the student.
      Note, RCUK may seek to have observer status at the University Research Misconduct Panel for those cases involving students in receipt of funding or involved in a projected funded by RCUK. Moreover should a student who is in receipt of funding or involved in the projected funded by RCUK be called to a University Research Misconduct Panel, then one of the ADRs or DPGRs muct be replaced by an independant member external to the University. 
    2. The Investigating Officer shall attend the Research Misconduct Panel throughout and minute the meeting. The Panel shall be empowered to call witnesses or experts as required, who may be external to the University.
    3. The student will be notified in writing no later than five working days prior to the Research Misconduct Panel being convened. The student shall be entitled to a copy of all the papers to be considered by the Panel, including a list of witnesses or experts that the Panel intends to call. The papers should include the records of the College investigation, and any reports written in the process of the investigation, other paperwork which is material to the allegations may also be included. The papers must be sent five working days in advance of the meeting.
    4. The student may prepare a statement in advance of the Panel and submit this to the Student Cases Office, which must be received no later than one full working day prior to the meeting of the Research Misconduct Panel. The student will also be permitted to call witnesses but must ensure that details of their witnesses are submitted to the Student Cases Office two full working days prior to the meeting.
    5. The student is entitled to attend the Research Misconduct Panel for the duration of the hearing (except as in 8.8 below). The student may be accompanied by a Supporter whose role is defined in section 3.6. The use of electronic audio recording equipment will not normally be permitted.  The student may not be represented in their absence.
    6. The ADR or DPGR, or nominee, shall attend on behalf of the College, and shall be entitled to attend for the duration of the meeting (except as outlined in 8.7 and 8.8 below). At the Chair’s discretion, the College Representative may directly question the student and any witnesses or experts that the student calls. The College Representative is entitled to call such witnesses and experts as they believe necessary, but must ensure that details of their witnesses are submitted to the Student Cases Office one full working day prior to the meeting.
    7. The student may, at the Chair’s discretion, be given the opportunity to address the panel in the absence of the College Representative. Following this, the Panel may recall the College Representative should the need arise.
    8. The Panel shall then meet in private to consider the case. The Research Misconduct Panel shall have the power to impose any penalty listed in Table 2 in section 10 (below) and may exercise its discretion when imposing a penalty.
    9. The Student Cases Office shall inform the student and the College in writing of its decision within five working days, and the penalty to be imposed. The full report and formal outcome including a copy of the minutes of the Panel will follow in due course.
    10. If the student is found guilty a record of the Panel’s decision will be kept by the Student Cases Office, Student Records and by the relevant College. It may also be necessary to inform the student’s sponsor, funder, Research Council, employer, partner institution, or professional regulatory body.
    11. If no case of Research Misconduct is found against the student, whilst the University will keep a record of the case, the student’s record held by the College and Student Records will not contain reference to the allegation, nor will the University inform external bodies of the outcome unless there was a requirement to inform the student’s sponsor, funder, Research Council, employer, partner institution, or professional regulatory body that an allegation was being investigated in the first place.
  9. Appeals
    1. A student shall have the right of appeal against any penalty imposed either by the College or by the Research Misconduct Panel. The student must complete the Research Misconduct Appeal Form and submit it to the Student Cases Office, with reference to the appropriate evidence. The Appeal must be received by the Student Cases Office within 10 working days of the date on the letter informing the student of the decision.
    2. A student should note that an appeal against a decision taken at any of these levels will only be accepted if:

      a) There is evidence of a procedural irregularity.
      b) There is evidence of bias.
      c) The decision reached is one no reasonable body (properly directing itself, and taking into account all of the relevant factors) could have arrived at.
      d) The student submits further material circumstances which could not reasonably be expected to have been submitted for consideration when the original decision was made.
    3. The Student Cases Office, in consultation with a Faculty Dean not involved in the original Panel, will establish whether there is a prima facie case for considering the case before a Senate Appeal Committee.
    4. If no prima facie grounds for the appeal are found, the appeal will be dismissed and the student informed, in writing, of the reasons. There is no further right of appeal against such decisions (see paragraph 9.13).
    5. If it is decided that there is a prima facie case for an appeal, a Senate Appeal Committee shall be convened. The Senate Appeal Committee has the power to confirm, to set aside or to vary the penalty imposed by the College-level hearing or the University Research Misconduct Panel. There shall be no further internal right of appeal against the decision of the Senate Appeal Committee.
    6. A Senate Appeal Committee shall comprise three members (including a student representative) of Senate. The Student Cases Office will appoint the Chair from that number. No person shall be entitled to be a member of the Senate Appeal Committee who is also associated with the student’s discipline(s) or who was previously involved in the case.
    7. The student shall be informed of the date of the meeting of the Senate Appeal Committee no less than 5 working days in advance, but the student may choose to appear before the Senate Appeal Committee but the Committee may also hear a case in the absence of the student. The student shall be entitled to attend the Committee meeting for the duration of the hearing, but will be required to withdraw whilst the Committee reaches its decision. Proxies for the student shall not be allowed. The student may be accompanied by a person who should normally be a member of the University (with any variation to this principle at the discretion of the Chair), such as a staff member, a member of the Guild of Students, or another student. The purpose of this person is to support the student during the course of the meeting, and they may take a written record on the student’s behalf. However, the use of electronic audio recording equipment will not normally be allowed. With the permission of the Chair, s/he may take a role in the cross-examination of any witnesses on behalf of the student and may make summative remarks following the student’s concluding statement. The student should indicate at the start of the hearing whether the accompanying person was expected to take an active role in the proceedings. The student may direct questions to the College representative (and any witnesses called) in an appropriate manner.
    8. The Senate Appeal Committee shall call the College representative and shall be empowered to call other members of the University or partner institution as witnesses as required.
    9. The Senate Appeal Committee, having considered the evidence, may uphold or reject the appeal, such a decision being final.
    10. The Senate Appeal Committee shall minute its deliberations and decisions and submit a report to Senate. If the Committee’s report includes a recommendation requiring action before the next meeting of the Senate, it shall be for the Vice-Chancellor to authorise action and then report to the Senate retrospectively.
    11. The Secretary of the Committee shall notify the student in writing of the Appeal Committee’s decision, giving the reasons for it and including a copy of the minutes.
    12. If an appeal is upheld by the Senate Appeal Committee, the student has the right to make representations to the Student Cases Office for the reimbursement of reasonable and proportionate incidental expenses incurred by the appeal.
    13. There are no other University appeal procedures beyond those stages detailed above. If, in the opinion of a student, an appeal remains unresolved after the exhaustion of the appropriate processes, application may be made to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education. For further details see http://www.oiahe.org.uk.
  10. Tables of Actions
    1. Table of Actions under section 5 of the Procedure (decisions taken by the ADR, DPGR or College Panel)
       DecisionAction
      1. Following the investigation no concerns remain. No action is taken and no record is kept on the student’s file.
      2. The student is not found guilty but nevertheless there are concerns as to whether they have sufficient understanding of the necessary academic conventions or research practices within the discipline or College. The student will be referred to the relevant source of support or training course as required.
      3. Misconduct is proven, ADR, DPGR or Panel determines action (a.) or (b.), taking into account the principles set out in this Code in reaching its decision. a) The student will be formally warned by the ADR, DPGR or Chair of the College investigation panel and may be required to resubmit work, normally to their supervisory team, by a fixed date appropriate to the work in question, or to otherwise demonstrate satisfactory adherence with the ‘Code of Practice in the Conduct of Research’. For a student enrolled on a Professional Doctorate programme or otherwise undertaking a module as part of their programme of studies, resubmission may involve resubmitting the work for that particular module, or undertaking a new piece of work under the direction of the module convenor. Failure to abide by the conditions of this warning will result in the student being referred to the Student Cases Office. This warning will be placed on the student’s record for the duration of their programme. In addition, further support may be recommended.
      b) The case will be referred to the Student Cases Office with the recommendation that a University Research Misconduct Panel be held.
    2. Table of Actions for Application by the University Research Misconduct Panel.
       OffencePenalty
      1. Following the investigation no concerns remain. No action is taken and no record is kept on the student’s file.
      2. Research Misconduct is proven. The Research Misconduct Panel recommends penalty (a.) or (b.), taking into account the principles set out in this Code in reaching its decision. a) The student will be formally warned by the Research Misconduct Panel and required to resubmit the work, normally to their Supervisory Team, by a fixed date appropriate to the work in question, or to otherwise demonstrate satisfactory adherence with the ‘Code of Practice in the Conduct of Research’. Failure to abide by the conditions of this warning will result in withdrawal. This warning will be placed on the student’s record for the duration of their programme. In addition the Panel may recommend further support as they believe necessary.
      b) The student is expelled and may not keep any credit they have gained. The expulsion will be placed on their permanent record.

Appendix A - Statement on the use of Proof Reading Services 

This statement is intended to clarify to students the scope of any proof reading support they may choose to engage. This statement is applicable to all undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students. The University does not expect students to use any form of proof reading service. However, the University does understand that for theses and dissertations students may wish to have their work proofread as these form substantive bodies of work. Nothing in this statement of policy should prevent students from sharing ideas and working together in the Exeter learning environment where appropriate. Should students have any questions about proof reading they should contact their personal tutor, module lead or supervisor in the first instance.

1. Definition of Proof Reading

1.1 The University defines proof reading as reviewing student work prior to submission to help with structure, fluency, presentation and to highlight errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. 

1.2 Proof readers can be a friend or colleague, or someone paid by the student to provide a proof reading service.

1.3 Proof reading should not include any assistance in relation to the content of the essay, nor should it involve any tutoring on the part of the proof reader. The proof reader should confine themselves to the structure, fluency, presentation and to highlight errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. If a proof reading service is offering to check the academic content of a written assignment, then this is not a legitimate proof reading service. If a Student persists in using such a service this may open the Student to an allegation of academic misconduct. (For the University’s procedures on academic misconduct or research misconduct please see the following links: (Taught Students http://as.exeter.ac.uk/academic-policy-standards/tqa-manual/aph/managingacademicmisconduct/) (Research Students http://as.exeter.ac.uk/academic-policy-standards/tqa-manual/pgr/researchmisconduct/)

1.4 Prior to engaging a Proof Reader, a Student should ensure that their work conforms to the guidance given by their Discipline, in terms of style and presentation, in the appropriate module or discipline handbook, or in the case of Post Graduate Research Students, the information contained within Chapter 11 – Presentation of Theses/Dissertations for Degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Research: Statement of Procedures.

1.5 This statement does not preclude members of Academic Staff from providing appropriate supervision, through the reading of drafts of material produced by students, as part of supervising a theses or dissertation. 

2. Checking whether proof reading is appropriate 

2.1 Students should always check with either the Module Leader, or their Supervisor as to whether it is appropriate to have a piece of work professionally proof read. Certain professional programmes assess students on clarity of communication as a key competency, and therefore in these circumstances, it would not be appropriate to have work professionally proof read.  

3. Scope of Proof Reading 

3.1 A third party may be used to assist the student in the following :  

  • That appropriate English spelling and punctuation is being used.
  • That the work is appropriately formatted and that the footnotes and endnotes are consistent.
  • That the work follows the conventions of grammar and syntax of written English.
  • Shortening long sentences and paragraphs.
  • Ensuring that the page numbers and any header or footer is consistent across the piece of work.
  • Improving the positioning of tables and illustrations and the clarity of grammar spelling and punctuation of any text in or under tables and illustrations.

3.2 A third party cannot be used to assist the student with the following: 

  • To change any part of the text of the work so as to clarify ideas and/or to develop the ideas and arguments.
  • To reduce the length of the work so that it falls within the stated word limit.
  • To provide any assistance with referencing.
  • To correct information within the work.
  • To change the ideas and argument put forward by the Student
  • To translate the work into English.

To provide comments to the Student on how well the work answers the question.

4. Owning the Corrections 

4.1 The Proof Reader should make all corrections either on a hard copy of the student’s work, or in track changes on an electronic document. The Proof Reader should make sure that all changes are visible to the Student.

4.2 The expectation is that the Proof Reader will highlight to the Student where corrections are necessary and the Student will then review the suggested changes and make changes to the master copy of their work, should they choose to. Students should take care to check all of the suggested corrections, as Proof Readers may suggest corrections to the style or layout which do not confirm with the University’s guidance. In the case of electronic track changes, Students should not just click accept all, they should check all the suggested corrections. The Student should retain the copy of the work they receive from the Proof Reader in case they are asked to supply this at a later date. 

4.3 It is the Student’s responsibility to choose whether or not to implement suggested changes, and it is the Student that is held accountable for standard of their work. 

5. Drafts

The expectation is that the Proof Reader will only see the final version of the Student’s work, i.e. the work is in its final form ready for submission to the best of the Student’s ability. The Proof Reader will then see this version and conduct their work only on this version. The Student will then receive this version from the proof reader and review the suggested corrections as above in section 4.2. 

6. Agreeing the Scope of Work 

6.1 Students should agree the scope of the work with a Proof Reader well in advance of the deadline. Students should use the template agreement (download here Proof Reading Template agreement) to ensure that the individual they have engaged to undertake proof reading is aware of this policy and is not offering a service which in anyway breaches this policy and retain a copy of this for their records. 

7. Disclaimer 

7.1 This document is intended to provide all students, members of staff and third party proof readers’ guidance for good ethical practice in relation to student work being proof read and then assessed. Both the Proof Reader and the Student have a duty to ensure that the proof reading process follows the guidance within this document. However it is imperative that students bear in mind that any adjustment to student work which is then submitted for assessment is ultimately the responsibility of the Student. 

Annex – College Report Form

Download: College Report Form

Download: Research Misconduct Appeal Form


1Gross negligence occurs when methods of data analysis, presentation and/or interpretation that should have been known (via supervisors or training modules) are not used or are used wholly inappropriately leading to flawed interpretation of the data.

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