Academic misconduct and AI software

April 4th, 2023

The University has communicated with students ahead of assessment deadlines to remind them of the dangers of academic misconduct, particularly in light of the current debate around the use of AI software such as ChatGPT.

The presentation of work or assessments other than that of the student(s) sitting the assignment constitutes false authorship under our academic misconduct policy. This includes plagiarism and the use of essay banks or the misuse of AI software such as ChatGPT.

The University has a raft of measures to detect and deter this behaviour and academic markers are offered guidance in spotting changes in their students’ writing styles. A range of resources and tutorials are also offered to students to enhance study skills and emphasise the penalties for cheating.

Our policy on academic misconduct is regularly communicated to students and recent communications have highlighted updates to the policy in light of the evolution of AI technology. The policy sets down the activities which may provide that student – or another student – an unpermitted academic advantage in a summative assessment, which includes students submitting work that is not their own (including AI generated content). Once detected, the policy allows appropriate sanctions to be applied. Penalties for academic misconduct can include the full loss of marks on an assignment or exclusion from the University, impacting on the qualifications a student might be hoping to achieve.

Whilst our policies and action to counter plagiarism are technology-neutral and cover all forms of academic misconduct, including the misuse of AI platforms such as ChatGPT, we keep our approach under continual review to account for new developments in technologies.

As a pioneering institution we encourage our staff and students to embrace new technologies. AI has the potential to be a powerful educational tool and, as such, there may be some learning applications and assessments in which it can be used constructively. These are indicated by our staff on a case-by-case basis.

Colleagues may be aware that Turnitin has published a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) writing detection capability. However, there has been widespread concern that the new tool was untested, and universities did not have sufficient policy, process, support or training in place to use it with any level of confidence at this time.

In line with nearly all Russell Group institutions, and the majority of other universities, the University of Nottingham has temporarily opted-out from this new capability whilst we carefully monitor the experience of the institutions that have agreed to pilot it.

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