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Developing good academic practice
Developing good academic practice

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3.4 Collaborative group answers

Submitting a collaborative group answer is only acceptable if it is explicitly asked for as part of the assessed task or question.

In such cases, a group answer often forms part of the assessment and is linked to additional questions or tasks where each individual has to describe their contribution to the group task and/or present their own thoughts and ideas on the process or topic of discussion.

Even when you are required to submit a collective group answer, it is important to clearly indicate where the group’s work starts and finishes, and what your individual thoughts, ideas and answers are.

If you are required to complete an assessed activity or question on your own but have found discussions with one or more individuals helpful in understanding how to complete this task (without obtaining the final or near-final answer), it may be acceptable to cite the group contributions or those from another individual as part of your final answer. In such cases, always check with your tutor first.

For example:

‘As part of a study group discussion (4 June 2008), the group collectively agreed that …’

In this type of scenario, as well as in the citation in your answer, you must include a reference at the end of your work. This should include a distinguishing name for the group, a note that this was a ‘personal communication’ (e.g. not written down anywhere), what the discussion was on and the date.

For example:

S250 Northwest study group (2008) Discussions on the human genome, 4 June 2008 (pers. comm.).

‘During an online discussion, Mark Jones (S250 general forum, 4 June 2008) described …’

For this type of online citation you should give the author’s name, the forum name and the date of the message (where the month is stated as a word, not a number). If you refer to more than one message posted by the same author on the same day, use ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, etc. after the year to distinguish between each posting. You then need to include a full reference at the end of your work, including the author’s name, the title of the message, the name of the forum and the full date.

For example:

Jones, M. (2008) ‘Understanding genomics – does this help?’, S250 general forum, 4 June 2008.

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