Investigating academic malpractice within an MBA Marketing module


  • Neil Wellman
  • Julia Fallon



This paper reports on progress and findings to date on an ongoing action research project designed to address the problem of academic malpractice, notably collusion, amongst postgraduate students on an international MBA programme. Its roots lie in 2008 when it was found that case study assignments had largely designed-out plagia-rism but that collusion had taken its place with the result that 132 cases were taken to the University?s Unfair Practices Committee. Understanding the problem was ap-proached in several ways, including reference to existing literature, which highlighted the importance of students? previous cultural and educational experiences, and quali-tative research drawing on students? views and feelings. As a result, a two-pronged strategy was adopted, one element being a zero-tolerance policy with all MBA assign-ments submitted to the Turnitin text matching software and wide broadcasting of the dangers and penalties resulting from malpractice. These were coupled with strength-ening the induction and Study Skills elements of the programme in order to develop students? independent study skills and understanding and ability to comply with UK academic conventions. We conclude that the dual strategy of prevention and cure was effective, resulting in the overall rate of academic malpractice falling from a high of 34.8%, and of collusion of 26.6%, to single figures with both being maintained with subsequent cohorts. The ongoing question of how best to adapt teaching practices to suit the background and expectations of international students remains unresolved. Therefore, further research is being conducted with selected preliminary findings be-ing presented in this paper.