UCD School of Psychology – Protocol in the case of suspected Plagiarism


UCD Academic Council provides the following description of plagiarism:

“The University understands plagiarism to be the inclusion of another person’s writings or ideas or works, in any formally presented work (including essays, theses, projects, laboratory reports, examinations, oral, poster or slide presentations) which form part of the assessment requirements for a module or programme of study, without due acknowledgement either wholly or in part of the original source of the material through appropriate citation. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty, where ideas are presented falsely, either implicitly or explicitly, as being the original thought of the author’s. The presentation of work, which contains the ideas, or work of others without appropriate attribution and citation, (other than information that can be generally accepted to be common knowledge1) is an act of plagiarism. It can include the following:

1.1. Presenting work authored by a third party, including other students, friends, family, or work purchased through internet services;

1.2. Presenting work copied extensively with only minor textual changes from the internet, books, journals or any other source;

1.3. Improper paraphrasing, where a passage or idea is summarised without due acknowledgement of the original source;

1.4. Failing to include citation of all original sources;

1.5. Representing collaborative work as one’s own;

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. While plagiarism may be easy to commit unintentionally, it is defined by the act not the intention. All students are responsible for being familiar with the University’s policy statement on plagiarism and are encouraged, if in doubt, to seek guidance from an academic member of staff. The University advocates a developmental approach to plagiarism and encourages students to adopt good academic practice by maintaining academic integrity in the presentation of all academic work.”

UCD School of Psychology and Plagiarism

UCD School of Psychology has adopted the UCD Academic Council description of plagiarism, see above.

The School of Psychology Teaching and Learning Committee through its Sub-Committee on Plagiarism (SCP) will examine and process all alleged instances of plagiarism in relation to assessments set by module co-ordinators e.g. in-house exams and tests, laboratory reports, research projects, essays during the academic year.

Terms of reference

  • The SCP will nominate two academic staff to investigate the alleged instance of plagiarism, informed by the University Plagiarism Policy and Procedures and the Managing Plagiarism at School Level document drawn up for the College of Social Sciences.
  • These two academic staff will process and carefully review the report outlining the grounds for suspicion and supporting evidence presented by the module co-ordinator to establish the facts and context of the alleged instance of plagiarism
  • Following the series of procedural steps outlined in the policy documents above, the staff nominated to investigate an alleged incident of plagiarism

Procedural Steps

In all cases of plagiarism a series of procedural steps should be followed, which are in line with UCD policy.

  • Write/email the student that he/she is in breach of UCD Plagiarism policy. Refer to the module. See appendix 1 for sample letter.

6.2 Plagiarism, that is the copying of another person's writings or works or ideas in any thesis, essay, project, laboratory report, oral, poster or slide presentation or other exercise, which forms part of the assessment requirement for a module or programme of study without due acknowledgement either wholly or in part of the original source of the material through appropriate citation. For further details on Plagiarism, please see UCD’s Plagiarism Statement, Plagiarism Policy and Procedures and any other such policies or regulations as approved by Academic Council governing the academic operation of programmes.

  • Provide a report in the email/letter outlining the evidence that may suggest an incidence of plagiarism has occurred
  • Inform the student that he/she must attend for interview on a designated date. If the alleged incidence of plagiarism has occurred near to the end of semester examining period it is recommended to deal with the issue immediately after the final date of scheduled exams. If the incidence occurred during the semester the issue should be resolved quickly.
  • If the student is unable to make the first appointment, they must be offered a second appointment date. If the student still fails to attend, the matter must be referred to the University Discipline Committee.
  • If the student fails to respond to the email/letter, there must be a follow-up with a second attempt atcontact. If the student still fails to respond, the matter must be referred to the University Discipline Committee.
  • Inform the student that he/she may have someone with them when attending the interview, e.g. Students Union representative, student advisor, parent, or another person in a supportive role
  • Inform the student he/she may seek advice from a student advisor.
  • On the day of the interview it is advisable to have two members of the academic staff present, neither of whom should be the module co-ordinator who reported the alleged incidence.  It is advisable to have an administrator present to record the meeting and its outcome.
  • On foot of the interview where incidence of plagiarism has been found, allocate a penalty for the assessment component under review, e.g. re-submit with no penalty, re-submit with penalty, capped grade of D-. The student should be informed both orally and in writing about the outcome of the interview. The student should also be informed that they have the right to appeal to the University’s Disciplinary Committee.
  • Where a student disagrees with the outcome from the interview, the School may refer the matter to the University’s Disciplinary Committee for resolution.
  • If the student does not accept this decision, the SCP will refer the case and relevant documentation to the University Discipline Committee.
  • The SCP will report the findings in relation to each instance of plagiarism to the Head of School, the Head of Teaching and Learning and the relevant Module Coordinator.
  • The SCP will ensure that a record is kept of each instance of plagiarism.
  • The SCP will periodically review the School’s arrangements for dealing with plagiarism and make any recommendations they deem appropriate to the Heads of School and T & L Committee.


Composition of the Committee

The members of the Sub-Committee on Plagiarism will be drawn from the School of Psychology. For the purposes of continuity and coherence of procedures in this area, the Sub-Committee will normally include some staff with greater experience of working with the process of investigating cases of alleged plagiarism and will be chaired by a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee. It is recommended that the term of the Sub-Committee on Plagiarism normally extend over 2 academic years.

 Adopted by the School of Psychology, UCD

February, 3rd, 2015


Appendix 1 - Sample letter to student asking them to attend meeting

[student address]



Dear [student name]

Having read the essay that you submitted as the final assignment for PSY XXX [Module title] I am concerned that it is substantially the same as one submitted by another student in the class.  I am now proceeding to investigate this as an alleged instance of plagiarism.

I enclose for your information a copy of the two essays together with a copy of the UCD Plagiarism Policy and Procedures.  In the first instance I would like to meet with you to discuss the essay that you submitted.  I will also ask [Head of Teaching and learning]  to attend the meeting as s/he is the Head of Teaching and Learning in the School of Psychology.  I would be grateful if you could meet us at XX on [date] in my office [room number]. Please note that this is not a disciplinary meeting and the aim is to enable us to find out more about the incident and to determine whether it should be reported to the Registrar.  Although it is not a disciplinary meeting you might want to bring someone with you to the meeting such as a member of the Student’s Union, a student adviser, a parent or friend. Please confirm with me by email (email address for contact) that you are free to attend.  If that date does not suit we will try to arrange another meeting date in the near future.


Yours sincerely




Head, UCD School of Psychology and Module Coordinator PSY XXX