Key Takeaways:

  • Crafting assessment questions that require higher-order thinking and unique responses can mitigate the risk of collusion plagiarism among students.
  • Encouraging legitimate collaboration among students for group projects can help them understand the difference between teamwork and collusion, promoting academic integrity.
  • Educating fellow students about the consequences of collusion plagiarism can foster a culture of honesty and mutual respect in academic environments.
  • Emphasising the importance of creating original content can motivate students to develop their ideas and solutions, reducing the temptation to plagiarise.

In the academic and professional world, maintaining integrity and originality in your work is paramount. However, sometimes the lines between collaboration and collusion can become blurred, leading to unintentional plagiarism.

This article delves into the concept of collusion plagiarism, distinguishing acceptable collaborative practices from those that cross the line into plagiarism.

By understanding the nuances and implementing preventive measures, you can ensure that your work remains authentic and credible.

What is Collusion Plagiarism?

Collusion plagiarism occurs when two or more individuals collaborate in a way that results in work being submitted that is not entirely their own, without proper acknowledgment of each person’s contributions.

Unlike individual plagiarism, where a person directly copies someone else’s work, collusion involves a level of cooperation that leads to the submission of work that is misleading about who did what.

In academic settings, this often happens when students work together on assignments meant to be completed individually.

In professional environments, it can occur when colleagues jointly produce work that is presented as the effort of a single individual.

Examples of Collusion Plagiarism

examples of plagiarism collusion

Understanding collusion plagiarism can be more intuitive with concrete examples.

Here are some examples that illustrate different scenarios where this common form of plagiarism can occur:

Identical Essays from Study Partners

Scenario: Two students, Jane and Tom, study together for their history class. They discuss their essay topics and share detailed outlines. However, instead of writing their essays independently, they end up submitting nearly identical papers with minor changes in wording.

Violation: Even though they worked together, the essays were meant to be individual efforts. The similarity in their submissions suggests they collaborated too closely, resulting in collusion plagiarism.

Shared Coding Assignments

Scenario: In a computer science course, Emma and Liam work on a coding assignment meant to be completed individually. Emma writes a substantial portion of the code and shares it with Liam, who then makes a few tweaks and submits it as his own work.

Violation: Liam’s submission does not reflect his independent effort, as required by the assignment. The shared code and minimal changes demonstrate collusion plagiarism.

Undisclosed Group Work

Scenario: Sarah, Alex, and Mia are given a take-home exam with the instruction to complete it individually. They decide to work together, discussing each question and collectively coming up with answers.

Each submits their version of the answers without acknowledging the group’s collaboration.

Violation: The take-home exam was intended to assess individual understanding. Their collective effort and identical or similar answers constitute collusion plagiarism.

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Copying Lab Reports

Scenario: John and his lab partner, Emily, conduct a physics experiment together. After collecting data, they are supposed to write separate lab reports. Instead, John writes the report and Emily copies it, making slight modifications before submitting.

Violation: Emily’s report is not independently written and relies heavily on John’s work, leading to the said academic misconduct.

Group Homework with Individual Submission Requirement

Scenario: A math class assigns homework to be completed individually. Four friends, however, decide to solve the problems together. They work on the solutions as a group and then each student submits the same solutions with only minor differences.

Violation: The homework was intended to be an individual assessment task. The group’s collective effort and identical submissions are examples of plagiarism and collusion.

Collaborating on an Online Test

Scenario: During an online test, Mark and Lucy decide to stay on a video call, discussing and answering questions together in real-time. They submit their tests with similar answers and reasoning.

Violation: The online test was designed to measure individual performance. Their real-time collaboration and similar submissions show collusion plagiarism.

Practices Permitted in Collusion

Not all forms of collaboration are considered collusion. Understanding what is permissible can help you navigate group work effectively.

Here are some practices that are typically allowed:

  • Group Projects: When working on officially assigned group projects, collaboration is not only permitted but expected. Each member’s contribution should be clear, and proper credit should be given.
  • Study Groups: Discussing and studying course material with peers is usually allowed, as long as the final work submitted is independently written and reflects your understanding.
  • Peer Reviews: Providing and receiving feedback on drafts can be beneficial and is often encouraged. Ensure that the feedback process does not lead to copying or unacknowledged use of someone else’s ideas.
  • Shared Resources: Using shared notes or resources is acceptable if it is explicitly allowed by the instructor or supervisor and the final work is independently produced.

When Are You Guilty of Plagiarism in Collusion?

guilty of plagiarism and collusion

Understanding when collaboration crosses the line into collusion plagiarism is crucial for maintaining academic and professional integrity.

You are guilty of collusion plagiarism under the following circumstances:

Unattributed Joint Work

Scenario: You and a peer work together on an assignment intended for individual completion. If you submit the work without acknowledging your peer’s contributions, you are presenting it as solely your own effort, which constitutes collusion plagiarism.

Identical or Similar Submissions

Scenario: You and a classmate discuss an assignment and end up submitting work that is either identical or strikingly similar. If the assignment was meant to be done individually, the high degree of similarity suggests that you collaborated too closely, resulting in collusion plagiarism.

Undisclosed Assistance

Scenario: You receive significant help from a friend or a tutor on an assignment and fail to disclose this assistance. By not acknowledging the help received, you mislead the assessor into believing the work is entirely your own, which is a form of collusion plagiarism.

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Sharing Pre-Written Answers

Scenario: You share your completed assignment or exam answers with a peer who then submits them as their own. This shared work misrepresents the individual efforts required and constitutes collusion plagiarism.

Using Group Work as Individual Work

Scenario: You and your group complete a project together, but the task specifies individual assessment submissions. If you submit the group work as your own individual effort without proper attribution, you are guilty of collusion plagiarism.

Copying Work from a Peer

Scenario: You copy substantial parts of a peer’s assignment, even with minor modifications, and submit it as your own. This act misrepresents your individual effort and understanding, leading to collusion plagiarism.

Key Indicators of Plagiarism Collusion

  • High Similarity: Submissions that are almost identical or have only superficial changes.
  • Inconsistent Contributions: Group work presented as individual work without clear attribution of each member’s contribution.
  • Lack of Acknowledgment: Receiving significant help without proper acknowledgment or citation.
  • Shared Resources Misuse: Using shared study materials or pre-written answers inappropriately in individual assignments.

Consequences of Collusion Plagiarism

consequences of collusion plagiarism

Engaging in collusion plagiarism can have serious consequences, including:

  • Academic Penalties: You may face penalties such as failing the assignment, receiving a lower grade, or even expulsion from the course or institution.
  • Professional Repercussions: In professional settings, collusion plagiarism can damage your reputation, lead to disciplinary actions, or result in job loss.
  • Ethical Implications: Collusion plagiarism undermines the principles of fairness and integrity, eroding trust in your work and character.

How to Avoid Collusion Plagiarism?

Avoiding collusion plagiarism requires careful attention to how you collaborate and how you attribute contributions. Here are some strategies:

Clarify Expectations: Always understand the guidelines provided by your instructor or supervisor regarding collaboration. When in doubt, ask for clarification.

Document Contributions: Keep a detailed record of each person’s contributions in group projects. Use tools like version control systems or collaborative documents that track changes and contributions.

Cite Collaborations: Acknowledge the help and input of others in your work. Use proper citation formats to give credit where it is due.

Original Work: Ensure that the final work you submit is written in your own words and reflects your understanding, even if you discussed ideas with others.

Use Plagiarism Checkers: Employ tools to check for similarities and ensure that your work is original. These tools can help identify unintentional overlaps with others’ work.

What’s Next?

To maintain the integrity of your work and avoid the pitfalls of collusion plagiarism, consider using plagiarism checking tools.

Employing a Bytescare plagiarism checker can help ensure that your work remains original and properly attributed. Book a demo today to see how Bytescare tool can safeguard your academic and professional integrity.

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By understanding and implementing these strategies, you can confidently navigate collaborative environments while maintaining the authenticity of your individual contributions.


How is collusion detected?

Collusion can be detected through various methods, including:
Similarity Detection Software: Tools like Bytescare can identify similarities between different students’ submissions, highlighting sections that are too similar to be coincidental.
Pattern Recognition: Instructors may notice patterns in writing style, structure, or errors that suggest collaboration.
Discrepancies in Skill Level: Significant differences in the quality of work submitted by the same student across different assignments may raise suspicions.
Direct Reports: Sometimes, collusion is reported by students themselves or other parties aware of the misconduct.

What is the difference between collusion and contract cheating?

Collusion: Involves unauthorised collaboration between students or individuals, leading to the submission of work that is not entirely their own.
Contract Cheating: Occurs when a student hires a third party to complete an assignment on their behalf and then submits it as their own work. This third party could be a professional service, another student, or anyone else.

What is collusion cheating?

Collusion cheating refers to any form of dishonest cooperation between two or more individuals that results in one or more parties submitting work that misrepresents their true level of understanding or effort. This can include sharing answers, jointly writing assignments meant to be completed individually, or copying each other’s work without proper attribution.

What is the difference between collusion and plagiarism?

Collusion: Involves two or more people working together in a way that breaches academic rules, resulting in shared work being presented as individual effort.
Plagiarism: Typically involves one person taking someone else’s work, ideas, or expressions and presenting them as their own without proper acknowledgment.

What is not an example of collusion?

Group Projects: Completing work as part of an assigned group project where collaboration is required and expected.
Permissible Peer Review: Receiving feedback on a draft from a peer and using it to improve your work, provided the final submission is your own.
Study Groups: Discussing course material and concepts with peers to better understand the subject, as long as individual assignments are completed independently.

What is an example of collaboration plagiarism?

An example of collaboration plagiarism would be if two students in a writing course decide to write their essays together, discussing and structuring them in such a way that their final submissions are nearly identical in content and style. Despite the online assessment requiring individual effort, they present the work as their own without acknowledging the extent of their collaboration.