Academic integrity

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Academic integrity

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Academic integrity



The University defines collusion as a 'form of cheating which occurs when people work together in a deceitful way to develop a submission for an assessment which has been restricted to individual effort'.  This means that you have worked together on a task, that you were instructed to do by yourself.  You are allowed to get help from Peer Learning Advisors or other University teaching staff.

The policy also states that avoiding unauthorised collaboration is a student's responsibility.  Students must "produce assignments independently, except when they are asked to participate in a group project requiring a joint group response to a task".

Cooperation or collusion?

Group tasks: you will be advised what the members of the group are expected to do together, and what (if anything) they are expected to do separately.  If you are unsure, check with your tutor or lecturer.

Collusion Cooperation
Planning a response together; copying a plan for an individual assessment. Analysing the assessment question together.
Paraphrasing someone else's assignment and submitting it as your own. Practising paraphrasing skills together and sharing tips.
Relying on some group members to do all the work. Sharing work evenly among group members.
Getting someone else to do your assessment task. Getting help from a Peer Learning Advisor or tutor

Remember, you are guilty of collusion when you are copying someone else's work, or letting someone else copy your work.

What should you do?

Your friend tells you she wants to read your assessment to see if she is on the right track:

  • don't let her read your assessment
  • do suggest you talk about the assessment topic together

One of your group is still not contributing even though you have made a work plan together and talked about the problem before:

  • don't do the work for him
  • do let your tutor or lecturer know you are having trouble and discuss the options

Your mates know you always get good marks and they rely on you for help.  If you don't they'll think you don't care about them:

  • don't give them the answers
  • do let them know you are worried about all of you getting penalised for collusion, and offer to help them learn the material by studying together


What happens if I collude with someone on an assessment task?

If your tutor thinks you have colluded, he or she will refer the matter to an Academic Integrity Adviser (AIA) in your school.  The AIA will consider the evidence to determine whether collusion has occurred and whether it is minor or serious academic misconduct.

If collusion is for minor academic misconduct, the AIA will apply a penalty.  If collusion is serious you will be referred to the College Academic Misconduct Committee.  The Committee will advise you of the allegation and of your rights.  It will make a decision on the appropriate penalty which can include failing the task or the subject. 


Are they in trouble?

Consider the following situations: are the students likely to be in trouble?  Have they done the wrong thing?  When you decide on your answer, think about what you would do in the same situation.


Tomorrow her assignment is due, and one of her classmates has asked for help. Sally is kind and likes to help people so she shares her work. She hopes the other student won’t copy her work, word for word.

Reveal answer

Sally is in trouble. The Academic Integrity Procedures (2012, p. 5) say that students must “not knowingly or carelessly make their work available to other students” to copy. This is enabling someone to cheat, for which there are penalties.

If Sally’s classmate copies Sally’s work she is cheating, and she will be in trouble.

Sue and Jason

Sue is good at maths so helps Jason, who has been struggling with calculations in one of his subjects. Jason writes well so writes an essay which they can both submit. Sue is pleased with this and contributes by checking that the references are correct. With over 2000 students in this subject, Sue and Jason know that the lecturers won’t be checking all the essays.

Reveal answer

Sue is in trouble. Submitting the same essay is a form of cheating; in this case it is collusion. Jason is in trouble. Submitting the same essay is a form of cheating; in this case it is collusion.



Without his mates, Hari would be alone at uni. They grew up together. Now his mates have asked him to share his work so they can copy it. Hari has agreed to show his friends how to do the work but he won’t hand over his assignment.

Reveal answer

If Hari doesn’t do the work for his mates, but instead shows them how to work out their problems, he won’t be in trouble. He could tell them about the Peer Learning Advisors (PLAs) in the library.

If Hari gives his mates the answers and lets them copy his work, he is in trouble. Hari’s mates won’t be in trouble if they learn from Hari how to do the work. Hari’s mates will be in trouble if they copy Hari’s work and pretend it is their own.



“It’s so good! I have to write a reflection on my contribution to the team activity, and I can just hand in the reflection I wrote last year for another subject”. This is good luck for Cathy, or has she got it wrong?

Reveal answer
Cathy is in trouble. Re-submitting work is a form of self-plagiarism. The Academic Integrity Procedures (2012, p. 5) say that students must ‘not submit their own academic work for assessment when it has already been submitted for assessment at another time…’