Receiving an allegation of Academic Misconduct can be stressful, but understanding the process can help you navigate it calmly and effectively. Here’s what you can expect.

Initial Email

The first time you might hear about an allegation is when you receive an email from your department. It will look something like this: 

I am contacting you about possible academic misconduct reported regarding your work.  You are suspected of a breach of the examination regulations in relation to:

Exam or Assignment Title Here 

From an initial review of the assignment, it seems that some may include plagiarism. 

Information about the UCL regulations regarding academic misconduct is available in Chapter 6, Section 9 of the Academic Manual. 

You will be contacted again once this issue has been investigated further. 

You may wish to seek advice from the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service and Student Support and Wellbeing Team

When you receive the initial allegation, be mindful that it will probably not tell you what kind of academic misconduct has been suspected.  

If you are told what kind of academic misconduct has been suspected but you don’t know what it means, look at UCL’s definitions and case studies.  

Following this email, your department will do a preliminary investigation. Within 10 working days, one of the following will happen: 

  • Receive an Academic Misconduct Report. This report will include a summary of the allegation and any supporting evidence. If you don’t receive the Academic Misconduct Report, contact the person who sent the initial allegation email.  
  • Your department may also decide that Academic Misconduct has not happened. You should still receive an email to confirm this. 

What can I do while waiting for the full allegation? 

Until you receive the full Academic Misconduct Report, it can be difficult to know what will happen next.  

You might find it useful to get your Turnitin Similarity Report and review these points. 

What is your paper’s similarity score? 

The similarity score is a percentage of your paper’s content that matches Turnitin’s databases, which include internet information, work previously submitted to Turnitin, journals and publications.  

There is no score to aim for. The important thing is to ensure that the ideas and quotations used are properly referenced in the appropriate academic style.

Is there a high similarity with another source? 

You’ll find a list of matches and the corresponding percentage of the submitted paper that matches to a source. 

Are there large areas of coloured text in your work?  

If there are whole sentences or paragraphs highlighted, this could indicate that you have not cited, paraphrased or used quotation marks correctly. 

Turnitin only recognises quotations within double quotation marks (“). Some referencing styles use single quotation marks (‘), so your department will need to check that your references and quotations are correct

While your Turnitin Similarity report can help you reflect on why you received the initial academic misconduct allegation, it is up to your department to decide whether there is evidence of academic misconduct in your work.  

Next Steps

Your department will then decide what procedure to use next. This could be :

  • Module Leader or Exam Board Chair Investigation 
  • Departmental Panel 
  • Academic Misconduct Panel 
  • Expedited Academic Misconduct Procedure 

You can read through our online guidance and UCL’s Academic Manual for what each process involves. 

Investigatory Viva (Contract Cheating, Collusion, or unauthorised use of GenAI) 

If there is a suspicion of Contract Cheating, Collusion or unsanctioned or unacknowledged use of Generative Artificial Intelligence tools (GenAI), you might be invited to an investigatory viva. This is an initial step to test your understanding of the work and explore what evidence is available to show you authored the work. 

You should be told why there is an allegation of this nature. You will then be invited to attend a viva (a meeting).  

You can read more about an investigatory viva here

How do I respond to an allegation?

  • Read through all the documents (such as the Academic Misconduct Report form and supporting evidence) you have been sent to have a full understanding of the allegation and the penalty. 
  • You will be given the opportunity to write a statement. Look at our Guide to Writing an Academic Misconduct Statement for help. 
  • Contact the Advice Service and ask an Advisor to review your statement. Don’t forget to send us your Academic Misconduct Report form, supporting evidence and emails from your department relating to the allegation.  

How can the Advice Service help?

Your Advice Service can offer support throughout the Academic Misconduct process, including: 

  • Helping you understand your Academic Misconduct Report Form and evidence 
  • Reading through drafts of your statement 
  • Attending a panel meeting as your ‘friend’ for moral support

You can also use our Guide to Writing an Academic Misconduct Statement to help you write your statement. 

If you receive an allegation of academic misconduct, it can be worrying and upsetting. We recommend that you speak to UCL Student Support and Wellbeing if you’re upset by the allegation.