Academic integrity and Cheating
Academic integrity is a fundamental principle that governs what is expected from students, including those at UiB (University of Bergen). We expect students to have confidence in their own abilities, make independent judgments, and take clear positions. While collaboration is encouraged at the university, most assignments are meant to be done independently.
There are good reasons, both in terms of academic principles and teaching methods, for the requirement that students write in their own words. Academic writing isn't just a way to demonstrate what you've learned; it's also a means to develop your academic skills. Using language effectively, students can better evaluate the quality of their arguments and viewpoints.
However, a significant part of these assignments may involve building on the work of others – their assessments, ideas, facts, and conclusions. When you use someone else's work, it's important to show where you got it from. The best advice is to be mindful about using work that you didn't create yourself and to reference it properly, following the accepted practices within the academic community.
You can find practical information about exams on this page.
Cheating is when you gain an unfair advantage in your studies or exams. You can be accused of cheating even if you didn't intend to cheat - the requirement for caution is high.
Cheating is a broad concept, and typically, cases of cheating fall into one of three categories: violations of academic standards related to citation (plagiarism), unauthorized collaboration, such as working together on an assignment, and violations of rules or guidelines. What we commonly refer to as "cheating" in everyday language, like using cheat sheets or illegal aids, falls under the umbrella of cheating.
What constitutes valid support material in an exam can be partly found in the examination regulations of your faculty and partly in the course description. What is considered cheating can, to some extent, vary between different faculties, fields of study, courses, teaching and examination methods, and more.
Sometimes it's straightforward to determine when rules about collaboration or aids have been broken. However, digital tools like ChatGPT have made this somewhat more complicated. See the section on generative language models (often referred to as artificial intelligence) and similar digital tools.
Reusing your own work (sometimes called "self-plagiarism") is a specific issue. Such reuse can be unproblematic, negatively affect your grading, or in rare cases, be considered cheating. As a general rule, reusing your own text that hasn't already been given credit, reusing an introduction, or less central parts of a text are not typically seen as cheating at UiB. In all cases, the decision that an instance cannot be handled through grading but should be treated as a cheating case should be discussed within the relevant academic community. Therefore, we encourage students who are unsure about the boundaries to discuss the issue with their instructor or another academic expert.
You may cheat if you:
Do not reference sources.
Reference fictional sources.
Fail to indicate direct quotations with quotation marks.
Take text from the internet, artificial intelligence tools, or other sources and present it as your own.
Use an answer that has been previously submitted, even if it is your own work.
Violate collaboration rules.
Use unauthorized aids (such as notes and sheets with academic content, mobile phones, smartwatches).
Include prohibited course material in approved aids.
Possess illegal aids, even if they are not used.
Violate other points in the faculty's examination regulations.
Citing and Citation Techniques
A characteristic feature of many written assignments you'll submit during your academic experience is that they largely rely on and build upon texts and other materials created by other individuals who hold the copyright. These texts are referred to as sources, and they can vary in nature, including:
Articles in journals and other publications
Summaries in various publications
Lectures and presentations
Images, films, and audio recordings
Conversations and discussions with teachers and fellow students
However, the fundamental rule remains the same: When you extract facts, ideas, thoughts, viewpoints, and short or long quotations from a source and use them in your own work, it should be clearly indicated which sources you have used. In other words, you should not give the impression that other people's thoughts, ideas, viewpoints, and findings are your own. Therefore, you must reference, cite, and quote in a clear and transparent manner every time you use a source.
The University Library has developed several resources that can guide you when using sources:
Not only is it acceptable to use sources, often it is absolutely necessary. There are two sets of formal rules that safeguard the rights of the source's creator. One is the Copyright Act, which states that it is permissible to quote from copyrighted works as long as it is done in accordance with good practice and to the extent required by the purpose (§ 22). The other set consists of established academic norms for source usage and citations. The Copyright Act and academic norms complement and supplement each other, and it is not always easy to distinguish where the boundary between them lies. Both sets of rules are important, and in an academic context, it is not sufficient to simply avoid doing something illegal; one must also adhere to academic good practice.
In severe instances, inadequate citation can be judged as plagiarism (and cheating).
On Artificial Intelligence
Generative language models like ChatGPT and other generative tools (for example, for images) raise questions regarding both source usage and the requirement for independence.
The University of Bergen allows different academic communities to decide on the use of such tools. Usually, there is a requirement that exam answers are independently produced texts. This means that submitting a text that is entirely or partially generated would be considered plagiarism unless it is properly cited.
Another challenge with the use of these tools is that the generated text may not always be reliable. The way these tools are designed results in text that is statistically probable – quite different from fact-based writing, which is a requirement in academic texts. This means that the generated text can contain elements of fiction, often referred to as "hallucination."
Hallucination is at the core of how these tools are designed. This aspect of generative language models brings up several aspects of source evaluation, including how credible the source is, whether it is objective, and how accurate it is. This necessitates caution when using these tools as sources.
In general, all software that affects results, analyses, or findings presented in academic work should be referenced. Digital tools are no exception. Such tools cannot be co-authors because authorship involves responsibility that the tools cannot take on.
A text generated by such digital tools cannot be reproduced by others. Therefore, in academic work, one should describe how the generator was used. This may include information about the timing, extent, and how the result was included in the text, among other details. Note that there may be discipline-specific guidelines for documenting such usage. The example below shows how to reference text generated by digital tools in APA7:
In-text: text (OpenAI, 2023)
Reference list: OpenAI. (2023)
ChatGPT (April 20 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com
Detection, Consequences, and Rights in Cases of Cheating
Cheating and attempts to cheat can be detected in several ways. During in-person exams and similar situations, exam proctors ensure that rules regarding aids and other regulations are followed. The examiners are knowledgeable about the subject area and course material, enabling them to identify plagiarism and other forms of cheating. Suspicion may also be aroused by characteristics in the submitted text, such as inconsistencies in style, significant variations in academic quality, omissions in the bibliography, and more. Occasionally, fellow students may report incidents of cheating.
The University of Bergen (UiB) also employs text recognition software. This software assesses exam responses and other submissions by comparing them to the work of other students, content available on the internet, and academic literature.
Cheating and attempted cheating have serious consequences. It typically leads to the annulment of the exam in question and may result in suspension from UiB and a ban from taking exams at all universities and colleges for up to one year.
The authority to annul an exam does not expire. This means that the university can investigate a cheating case, even if it occurred a long time ago and the individual is no longer a student. If the course is part of the basis for a degree, the degree becomes invalid, and the diploma must be returned.
When suspicions of cheating arise, the department or faculty conducts investigations and then decides whether to refer the case to UiB's central appeals board for an initial decision.
Throughout the process, you have the right to access the case documents at all stages and the right (though not an obligation) to provide written and oral explanations to the university. You can also be represented by a lawyer or another representative throughout the entire process. UiB has a student ombudsman who can provide guidance on rights and obligations.
If the department or faculty chooses to refer the case to the central appeals board for a decision, UiB covers the student's legal expenses from that point onwards.
You also have the right to appeal the board's decision, and the appeal body is the Joint Appeals Board (Felles klagenemnd). The deadline for filing an appeal is three weeks from the date you were informed of the initial decision. Please note that in these cases, the university does not cover legal expenses unless the decision in the initial instance is suspension.
Procedure for Academic Misconduct Cases
When an exam proctor suspects academic misconduct during an in-person examination, the chief proctor is called in. The chief proctor is responsible for documenting the sequence of events, preserving any evidence, informing the Division of student and academic affairs, and filing a report on the incident. The Division forwards the report to the relevant faculty, which is responsible for investigation and, if necessary, referral to the central appeals board.
The student is allowed to complete the examination and should be informed that the case will be forwarded to the faculty for further examination.
Exam Responses and Plagiarism Checks:
UiB employs plagiarism detection software to review exam responses and other submissions, comparing them with electronically searchable text from the internet and UiB's task database.
The software generates similarity reports that require manual assessment. It is during this manual review that suspicions of academic misconduct may arise. Reports and matching percentages alone never trigger suspicion; it depends on the discretion of the reviewer.
Responses that warrant attention are sent to the department/faculty or to a misconduct committee if one exists. This is where the case is investigated and potentially referred to the central appeals board.
Written Assignments – Instructors and Examiners:
Academic misconduct can occur in any written assignment. When an examiner or instructor suspects plagiarism or misconduct, it is crucial to immediately gather evidence to support the suspicion for further reporting and handling. Documentation is presented to the academic responsible and administrative leader who oversee the investigation. The assessment process should continue as usual for all students. In cases of plagiarism, it is particularly important that UiB's assessment is grounded in the academic community.
Referral to the Central Appeals Board:
Before referral, the department and faculty must determine whether there are grounds for a cheating case. In cases of doubt, this involves a comprehensive evaluation of the exam response against academic standards. The decision-maker should consider these elements when relevant:
Extent of textual similarities
Lack of citations
Absence of a reference list
Closeness of the written text to the source
Whether the student attempted to conceal potential misconduct
The stage of the student's academic progression
Any history of academic misconduct. Multiple prior instances count negatively.
This procedure ensures that academic misconduct cases are thoroughly examined, evaluated, and, if necessary, referred to the central appeals board for further action.
Contents of the Referral to the Appeals Board
The Appeals Board typically considers these five elements, which can serve as a guideline for the content of the referral:
What does the documentation reveal?
What does the student say?
What else is known about the factual circumstances?
Does the student's actions fall within the scope of academic misconduct?
Has the student acted with gross negligence or intentionally?
Misinterpretation of the rules:
Is the student aware of the rules regarding academic misconduct?
What was the student's thought process regarding the events leading to suspicion?
Has the university clearly communicated academic standards?
Choice of Consequences:
What factors suggest a strict or lenient response?
In many cases, it is relatively easy to determine what has happened because the submitted text provides a clear picture of the situation, and there is often no doubt that the particular student has created (or submitted) it. However, the student should still be asked about their process of working on the text and how they respond to the basis for suspicion of academic misconduct.
If two or more students have collaborated on texts that are meant to be individual, the nature of their collaboration must be assessed. Have they worked on their respective parts separately, have they worked together on everything, or have they collaborated in other ways?
Borderline cases for the objective assessment of whether something constitutes academic misconduct may involve instances where a student has submitted text they have previously submitted or cases of incomplete citations. It can also include text similarity to a lesser extent.
The law stipulates that academic misconduct must either be intentional or grossly negligent. The Storting Committee has stated that it emphasizes that students have a strict duty of care during exams. The Supreme Court has stated in its judgment HR-2015-1875-A that this adequately covers the duty of care requirement in the academic misconduct regulation (paragraph 54).
Relevant factors to consider at this point include whether text similarities are due to thoughtlessness, whether the student has worked in a way that poses a high risk of text similarities (or other issues) and took a chance, or whether the student copied intentionally. Due to the high standard of care required, misunderstandings rarely argue against academic misconduct, but this will vary from case to case and is something the case handler must assess. It may also have implications for determining the consequences.
Choice of Consequences:
There are several factors that may be relevant for determining the consequences, including:
Is the student new to the program or an advanced student?
Has the student copied long passages or shorter sections along with their own independent work?
Has the student abused the trust of other students or staff?
The degree of fault.
The faculty/department should make an assessment of the seriousness even if they do not have to propose a specific consequence.
Referral to the Central Appeals Board
If the department has concluded that the case should be referred to the central appeals board, it must first go through the faculty. The faculty will perform a quality check on the referral and assess whether there is a basis for a cheating case. This must be handled promptly.
Once the case is sent to the central appeals board, the secretariat will review that the case is complete. The secretariat will inform the student that the case has been received, including the opportunity to present their viewpoint to the board if applicable. The secretariat prepares a case note that the board will consider, along with all other documents in the case. The board makes a decision in a separate meeting. The student is informed of the decision by the secretariat.
At each of these stages, the department or faculty may be asked for additional documentation or assessments if necessary.