How We Define plagiarism

Plagiarism is a form of cheating and is a serious academic offence. It arises where work submitted by a learner is not their own and has been taken from another source. The original material is then hidden from the marker, either by not referencing it properly, by paraphrasing it or by not mentioning it at all.

The most common forms of plagiarism are:

  • cut/copy and pasted material from the Web
  • copying the work of another learner (past or present) including essay material, laboratory data or computer source code
  • copying course material or lecture notes
  • copying material out of a textbook or journal

Plagiarism may occur in a number of other forms, as well as in conventional written work. Another learner may be involved, or the plagiarism may arise from the misuse of sources outside the Archimedes learning provider’s learning and support materials.

The key is proper attribution of source material. None of the activities listed above is, of itself, necessarily wrong.

Plagiarism is a serious matter for the Archimedes learning provider’s qualification. If not dealt with, it will ultimately devalue all Archimedes learning provider’s courses to the detriment of both learners and the Archimedes learning provider’s community. It also introduces a fundamental and inevitable distortion when the work of a learner cohort is being assessed. This, in turn, is likely to lead to the undetected plagiarist obtaining better marks and a better degree than a learner who is playing by the rules.

As an individual learner you have signed to declare that all of your work is both original and your own. Archimedes learning providers have access to sophisticated tools that will detect plagiarism. Where plagiarism has occurred, the learner will fail the course without recourse to appeal or rights to re-apply for training with Archimedes learning provider’s.


A learner’s responsibilities

A learner who is training with an Archimedes learning provider is expected to submit work that demonstrates compliance with two important prerequisites:

  • a level of independent thought, grounded in the teaching received;
  • the provision of clear referencing to all sources consulted, both within the main body of the work submitted and in any separate listing of sources.

It should be clear from a consideration of these two key requirements why plagiarism is unacceptable. By definition, a piece of work that has been plagiarised will never be able to meet either of the above criteria. Asking yourself prior to submission whether your work passes both tests is a useful method for determining whether there is likely to be a problem with plagiarism.

It is ironic that learners sometimes seem to go to great lengths to hide the sources that they have been consulting. Proper referencing of these will normally be reflected in a good mark for the work submitted. This is because the appropriate use of source material is considered to be a crucial part of educational life. The resultant marking process will therefore acknowledge this, hence the inherent irony involved in the position of the learner plagiarist who runs the risk of a serious penalty by hiding an aspect of their work that, done properly, is likely to help achieve a good mark without putting their learner career in jeopardy.


‘Accidental’ plagiarism

Archimedes accepts that learners, particularly in view of the severe penalties that may be applied in cases of serious plagiarism, will be anxious to avoid inadvertently submitting plagiarised work. It is, for example, possible to cite a source in the separate bibliography and still commit plagiarism by then incorporating a significant amount of un-attributed material taken directly or indirectly (through paraphrasing) from that source into the body of the assignment.

Differences between working methods in individual Archimedes learning provider’s and at Archimedes are acknowledged too, as are the inevitable adjustments in cultural and geographical modes that international learners must rapidly make. Similarly, mature learners may enter Archimedes not having been involved in academic study for a number of years.

Above all, the learner body is not a single grouping and Archimedes is aware of the need for a sympathetic approach to plagiarism, particularly in vocational and specialised studies and where there is no conscious attempt by the learner to deceive. However, this is not a blank cheque for cheating. Penalties may be applied at any time.

The onus is on individual learners to ensure that the academic conventions applicable to study at Archimedes are understood and acted upon. Archimedes, in conjunction with your Archimedes learning provider, will ensure that you have clear guidance on what is expected of you in terms of the referencing of source material. If you are worried about committing plagiarism, always seek help and advice from your tutor, supervisor or other academic advisor within your Archimedes learning provider’s business. Members of Archimedes office staff are experienced in dealing with questions about proper referencing and will be happy to help.

The material issued by your Archimedes learning provider should always be your main source of guidance, however the following guidance from the Birmingham University Library may be of interest:


Plagiarism-detecting software

Archimedes learning providers are making use of software systems, in addition to the existing and very effective methods that rely on the marker’s knowledge of their subject.

You should be assured that academic judgement is always brought into play when analysing the results. An Archimedes learning provider will not take action against you for plagiarism as a result of using their plagiarism software unless it has looked very carefully at the report obtained from the software and assured itself that there are sufficient grounds for concern. You will be able to see the relevant report and to challenge the Archimedes learning provider’s case if you are accused of plagiarism following a software-based analysis of your work.

Above all, the systems of software detection will be used openly and transparently by your Archimedes learning provider. Systems are not intended as a trap. However, Archimedes reserves the right to protect the academic integrity of its course awards by whatever means available to it. This will benefit those learners who did not plagiarise.



How Archimedes learning providers deal with plagiarism

This is a complex area. In broad terms, these are the various stages:

  • If your Archimedes learning provider is sure that any plagiarism that arises is not deliberate on your part and may be put down to an unfamiliarity with the referencing conventions required for Archimedes study, then it may simply provide guidance and a warning concerning your future work. Obviously, this position will not be taken with a learner where it is reasonable to expect that they would know how to cite source material properly and would normally only apply up to our Level 2 course study and to the early stages of a Level 3 programme;
  • If your Archimedes learning provider believes that some form of sanction may be necessary, it will first ask you to write to us explaining in detail the relevant circumstances. You can also ask for an independent review of the evidence presented against you if you believe that the allegation of plagiarism is unreasonable;
  • Following on from the interview, the Archimedes learning provider’s will determine the level of plagiarism (if any) that it believes has arisen. There are three general categories: poor academic practice, moderate plagiarism and serious plagiarism.

The Learning Agreement and plagiarism

This is a bipartite contract that sets out an agreement that you, for your part, will not submit plagiarised work and that your Archimedes learning provider, for its part, will help and support you to avoid plagiarism. It is seen by Archimedes as a helpful expression of good faith and intentions by both sides of the academic partnership involving you and Archimedes (and it’s provider partners).


Learner background and plagiarism

The educational background of learners may make unintentional plagiarism more likely. Given the diversity of learner background in Archimedes cohorts, previous experience of formal education in the UK cannot be assumed. The expectations of learning and the learning styles that learners bring will have been inevitably influenced by experience and circumstance, as well as by individual preferences. Learner work that stays close to the original source and is therefore at risk of an allegation of plagiarism may, in some cases, be the result of:

  • past experience of what has proven to be successful in other academic contexts but which is now a liability to the learner;
  • previous assessment systems and their differing rules in respect of source material;
  • any past shortages of teaching and learning resources;
  • a hierarchical understanding of knowledge-production in which the ‘novice learner’ defers to the ‘expert source’ (teacher or text);
  • a different understanding of the ‘ownership’ of knowledge and what is to be expected of material in the public domain;
  • a poor standard of English leading to a lack of confidence in the free expression of individual ideas within an academic environment.


Archimedes accepts that one (or more) of the above factors may play a role in a case of alleged plagiarism. Each case will, therefore, be treated on its individual merits and taking account of all relevant circumstances.


Appealing the decision

You may appeal in writing within fifteen working days against the decision of Archimedes and/or its learning provider by contacting Andrew Coulthard, Group Commercial Director by email at



All cases will be recorded on the Archimedes Customer Relationship Manager database and this information will be retained in accordance with Archimedes record
retention policy.