How we deal with breaches of academic integrity , Te tukanga ina whati te mahi pono

We take accusations of plagiarism, cheating and other forms of breaching academic integrity very seriously. We follow a formal process to investigate and decide a penalty.

When you or your work don’t meet our standards of honesty, care and ethical responsibility, it's called a breach of academic integrity.

If your course coordinator or an examiner thinks you may have breached academic integrity, we use the process described in our Student Disciplinary Regulations to investigate the problem and find a resolution.

How we assess possible breaches of academic integrity

We use three criteria to decide how serious a possible breach of academic integrity is.

1. Our expectations about what you should know

We consider how long you have been at university, and how much you should know about academic standards.

  • In your first year of undergraduate study, we understand that you may still be learning academic writing and study skills. When we assess charges of plagiarism, we take this into account.
  • By your second or third year of study, we expect you to have developed strong academic writing skills.
  • Academic integrity offences by postgraduate and doctoral students are very serious.

2. The nature of the breach

Breaches of academic integrity are more serious when they’re clearly deliberate and deceptive. You are deliberately breaching academic integrity if you:

  • take notes or a mobile phone into a test or exam
  • submit research data that has been fabricated
  • help other students cheat.

3. The extent of the breach

If you are accused of plagiarism, we consider how much of your assignment is problematic. We look at the amount of material that is:

  • copied from a source, and not properly referenced
  • badly paraphrased, and not properly referenced.

There is no firm rule about how much copied or paraphrased material is unacceptable.

Note: Integrity updates

We’re currently updating our Student Academic Integrity Policy. This policy will be valid until the new one is published.

Levels of academic misconduct and their penalties

At Massey, there are different levels of academic misconduct.

Minor breach

This is the least serious academic integrity breach. It will usually be investigated and resolved by your course coordinator, in an informal process.

Minor breaches include:

  • copying a passage of text without a reference in one of your first assignments at Massey
  • poor paraphrasing in one of your first assignments at Massey.

Penalties for minor breaches

If you commit a minor breach, you might:

  • be asked to attend a course about good scholarly practices
  • be referred to a Learning Consultant, who will help you improve your academic writing skills
  • have to repeat the assessment
  • get a reduced mark for the assessment
  • get a zero for the assessment.

A minor breach won’t affect your academic record, or be entered into the Academic Misconduct Register.


We call more serious breaches of academic integrity misconduct.

The Academic Integrity Officer in your college usually investigates claims of misconduct, and decides whether to give a penalty.

Examples of misconduct

These offences would likely be considered misconduct:

  • plagiarising if you’re a second or third year undergraduate student
  • taking notes or a phone into an exam.

Penalties for misconduct

If, after investigation, we believe you’re guilty of misconduct, the penalty might be:

  • referral to a Learning Consultant, who will help you improve your academic writing skills
  • repeating the assessment with a reduced maximum mark
  • failing the assignment or exam
  • failing the course
  • suspension from Massey.

The penalty you get will depend on how serious your offence is.

If you’re charged with misconduct, the breach will be recorded in the Academic Misconduct Register. This means that if you commit another offence in the future, the penalty might be more serious.

Serious misconduct

The most severe breaches of academic integrity are classified as serious misconduct.

Accusations of serious misconduct are investigated by the University Proctor.

Examples of serious misconduct

These breaches would likely be classified as serious misconduct:

  • fabricating or falsifying research data
  • paying someone to do an assignment for you
  • paying for answers to an exam
  • any breach of academic integrity if you’re a doctoral student.

Penalties for serious misconduct

If Massey believes you’ve committed serious misconduct, the penalty might be:

  • having to repeat the assessment, with a reduced maximum mark
  • failing the assignment or exam
  • failing the course
  • suspension from Massey
  • exclusion from Massey.

If you commit serious misconduct, it will be recorded in the Academic Misconduct Register.

How we investigate possible breaches of academic integrity

If you're accused of breaching academic integrity, the process we follow depends on how serious the possible offence is.

  • If a Massey staff member thinks you have committed a minor breach, they will invite you to discuss the problem and decide on a penalty informally.
  • If you're accused of a breach that would be classified as misconduct, we'll begin a formal investigation.
  • If you're accused of a breach that would be classified as serious misconduct, the University Proctor will investigate.

Formal investigation process

You can read about the formal investigation process in detail in the Student Disciplinary Regulations.

  • You will be invited to a meeting to discuss the problem. This is your chance to explain what has happened from your point of view.
  • You can attend the meeting in person or online.
  • You're allowed to bring a legal representative to the meeting, if you want to.
  • Or, you can bring someone to support you. This could be someone from the Student Advocacy Service, the Student Counselling Service, your whānau or a friend.
  • You will get a letter to let you know about the outcome of the investigation, and any penalties.
  • In most cases, you can appeal our decision.

Appealing charges of misconduct or serious misconduct

You can appeal charges of misconduct and serious misconduct as long as:

  • you and your course coordinator or the Academic Integrity Officer have not already agreed about the outcome of the charge
  • you follow the rules about appeals in the Student Disciplinary Regulations.

Understand our academic integrity policy

Our academic integrity policy isn't just about breaches – we also support you to produce work of a high academic standard.

Our approach has six parts:

  1. Education. We have a range of services and resources dedicated to helping you understand the rules we expect you to follow. If you breach academic integrity, we try to help you learn from your mistake.
  2. Communication. You can read all our rules and policies about academic integrity on our website.
  3. Academic Integrity Officers (AIOs). Our officers give advice about academic integrity to Massey’s staff, and help deal with breaches.
  4. Disciplinary regulations.
  5. Academic misconduct register. If, after investigation, we believe you’ve committed academic misconduct, we’ll record the breach in our academic misconduct register.
  6. Plagiarism detection software. Your lecturers may use Turnitin to check your work for plagiarism.

Discover where to get support with academic integrity

Learn how to submit a draft to Turnitin on OWLL