Explaining Poor Academic Practice

The process to determine a finding of Poor Academic Practice following an allegation of academic misconduct has substantially changed.

What is Poor Academic Practice?

Poor Academic Practice (PAP) constitutes very minor contraventions of expected academic standards, including a lack of familiarity with academic writing conventions or poor referencing or paraphrasing practices.

A possible outcome of an investigation by an AIO (Academic Integrity Officer) of suspected academic misconduct under ACU’s Student Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy and Procedure is a finding of PAP.

When a PAP is determined, it is recorded and the student is provided with counselling and usually directed to compulsory education. Importantly, a PAP does not constitute academic misconduct and only an AIO can make a determination of a PAP.

Widening eligibility

Previously, only less experienced students with minor issues could receive a PAP finding, which results in an educational intervention rather than a finding of academic misconduct. The new changes extend this approach: 

  • Any student who has no academic misconduct history may receive a PAP instead of facing an allegation of academic misconduct for very minor contraventions. This is applicable to inexperienced students who have not yet completed their first eight units, postgraduate students who have not yet completed their first four units and more experienced students where there was no significant academic advantage.
  • Less experienced students may receive a PAP in most circumstances, with only specific serious matters leading to a breach (eg. contract cheating, cheating in an examination, inappropriately drawing on one or two sources comprising majority of the submission). This approach recognises the ongoing learning process for students adjusting to academic standards.

For detailed information on the handling of PAPs, please refer to Section 8 of the Student Academic Misconduct Procedure.

Process of determination

A PAP finding was previously one possible outcome following an allegation of academic misconduct and the student was provided with an opportunity to respond. Under the new procedure, the outcome of a PAP finding can be issued either directly without the student receiving an allegation notice or as an outcome of an investigation. 

This streamlines the response time in many academic misconduct cases, enabling students to receive prompt feedback and education, often before their next assessment is due and allows staff to finalise grades more efficiently.

The changes also aim to reduce stress and uncertainty for students while improving the student experience. If a student disagrees with the PAP determination, they have the right to request a review of the decision under the Student Appeals Policy.

All potential cases of academic misconduct must be lodged through the Student Academic Misconduct Management System (SAMMS). To learn more, visit Academic Integrity or contact academic.integrity@acu.edu.au if you have any further questions.

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