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Student Support and Guidance

University Policies

The University Ordinances and Regulations: Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) are many and complex - but you can get help at Student Support [1] Office to find what you are looking for.

Submission and Completion

A crucial policy for you to know is that you must submit your thesis within 4 years of starting, unless you have an approved extension or interruption (see next section). Both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the thesis is required, and the submission date is defined as the date that the hard copy is received. The closing date for the electronic copy to be received is two-days before the final submission date.

If you take longer than your degree time (e.g. you are on a three-year PhD and you haven’t finished your degree after three years), you cease being registered on your degree programme and will need to request permission to register as “submission pending”. The relevant University policy is Circumstances Leading to Changes to Postgraduate Research Study Policy.

You will need to fill in a End of Year 3 form, available on eProg [2] or from the Student Support [1] Office.

There is no submission pending for four-year degree courses.

Plagiarism and Academic Malpractice

Reputation is the most valuable commodity a researcher has. By extension, it is most valuable to a research-led University. Therefore, the University of Manchester takes academic malpractice including plagiarism extremely seriously. So, don’t do either of the things mentioned in the title of this section.

Examples of academic malpractice are: presenting work of others as your own, and presenting work which has not really been done as having been done (e.g. falsifying data). Remember, plagiarism can mean copying words, but also copying ideas. Also, you will need to discuss with your supervisors how to deal with their ideas in your thesis, since only your name is on the title page.

Academic malpractice is defined by the University in this Guidance to Students on plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice.

Academic malpractice is any activity — intentional or otherwise — that is likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship or research. It includes plagiarism, collusion, fabrication or falsification of results, and anything else that could result in unearned or undeserved credit for those committing it. Academic malpractice can result from a deliberate act of cheating or may be committed unintentionally. Whether intended or not, all incidents of academic malpractice will be treated seriously by the University

All PGRs should read this document. You should also read Regulation XVII ’Conduct and Discipline of Students’. Another relevant document is “Academic Malpractice (Collusion, Fabrication and Plagiarism)”.

The consequences of academic malpractice are very serious. For an assessment, you may receive a mark of zero for that unit, with no opportunity to resit. For a research degree, penalties can be as great as expulsion from the University without the award of the degree. If it is discovered after the degree is awarded, it can result in being stripped of the degree, as well as a loss of ones job and reputation. There have been several recent, high-profile examples, such as the 2011 case of a German defence minister (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12566502).

A basic progress guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism, and links to more comprehensive resources are available.

All PGRs should make sure they are familiar with what the university expects from its PGRs. All PGRs are also required to complete a plagiarism course.

In view of the serious consequences of plagiarism and academic PGRs with the accepted format for referencing work in their discipline, and that they start using the accepted form as soon as possible. Ignorance of the proper format, or ignorance of the definitions of plagiarism and academic malpractice used by the university, is not a valid defence against a possible claim of plagiarism or other instance of academic malpractice.

Some PGRs want to run their theses through TurnItIn to see if there is too much overlap with their publish work or other works they have cited. The University will not allow PGRs to use its license for this, but you can do it from the TurnItIn student site https://www.writecheck.com/static/home.html. You have to pay for this. You should do this in such a way that your thesis does not get stored in the TurnItIn database, otherwise if you (or anyone) every runs it through again, it will return a 100% match. This information is not a recommendation for you to do this; it is simply here in case you want it.

Finding a policy document

Unfortunately, the University has a host of policy documents pertaining to Postgraduate Researchers, and it can be daunting to go through them to find what you are looking for. Here are some useful places to look.

University PGR Code of Practice:
The University has a code of practice which is sort of a road map of the relevant policy documents which describe what you can expect from the Department and your supervisors, and what is expected of you.
Department Charter:
The Department has produced a PGR charter, which gives the Department’s view on what can be expected from us and from you. It is short and worth reading.
eProg expectations form:
During your first few weeks here, a form will appear on eProg (see section eProg [2]) called the expectations form. The first part of this contains links to 9 relevant policies, which you are asked to read and discuss with your supervisor. This will help ensure you know what the policies are.

PGR Representation

There are several ways in which PGRs can give feedback to the Department and University. First, there are the mentors; and mentors act as PGR representatives. So, if you have an issue about how the Department is run, you can bring it up to one of the mentors. Or become a mentor. You can also discuss it with the PGR Director.

There is a Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) conducted yearly across all Universities. We get the results broken down by Department. In the past the University has changed its procedures (notably its orientation procedures) based on the outcome of this, so do fill it in when you hear about it. It usually takes place in the late spring.

Ethical Approval

All research involving human or animal subjects has to be approved by the University Ethical Approval mechanism. This includes usability studies for software and hardware systems and HCI evaluation of systems. To get approval, contact the Ethical Approval Officer in the Department.

Complaints Procedure

The University has a formal Complaints Procedure. Most complaints are most quickly and effectively dealt with locally. Contact your supervisor, advisor, PGR tutor, or PGR Director. If it is of a general nature (e.g. resource allocation), mention it to one of the mentors, so it can be raised at a PGRSSCC meeting. If it involves the environment (e.g. heating), send an email to any of the local CS estates staff. If it involves an IT problem, raise a ticket on the CSIS system (see section [item:CSIS]). If you are dissatisfied with the response, put the complaint in writing to the Head of Department, unless it involves actions taken by the Head of Department, in which case put it in writing to the Dean of the Faculty of EPS. If you still dissatisfied, you should refer the matter formally and in writing to the University Registrar and Secretary. See the complaints procedure document for instructions how to do this.

If you need help using the procedure or guidance on where to refer your complaint, you can seek advice from any of the following: The Academic Advisory Service, the appropriate Faculty or Department Secretary, the office of Student Support and Services, or the Students’ Union Advice Centre (Students’ Union, tel. 275 2930).

The Complaints Procedure does not cover the following:

  • disciplinary issues (for which a separate procedure exists)
  • matters where other separate procedures apply, e.g. harassment, academic appeals relating to examinations or assessments, appeals against exclusion on academic grounds, or against refusal to be issued with a Certificate of Satisfactory Work and Attendance, or Complaints about the Students’ Union.

Information on these separate procedures can be obtained from the University’s policies webpage.

[1](1, 2) mailto:compsci-sso@listserv.manchester.ac.uk
[2](1, 2) http://www.eprog.manchester.ac.uk