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The social anatomy of 'collusion'

Crook, Charles; Elizabeth, Nixon

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Charles Crook


This paper offers a conceptual analysis of collusion, the often overlooked relative of plagiarism in debates on academic integrity. Considered as an inherently social phenomenon, we present the results of a systematic effort to understand the anatomy of collusion. The term’s meanings and associated governance practices are compared for contexts outside Higher Education (HE). These are considered alongside a thematic analysis of publicly available UK university academic integrity documentation that specifies for students what counts as collusion. We indicate how current guideline practice can (1) appear incomplete by concentrating on classroom peers, (2) create blurred boundaries around useful collaboration, peer review and dishonest practice and (3) may be so unrealistic as to have unwelcome, unintended consequences for students and staff. Taking an ecological perspective on the conditions of collusion emphasises how these guidelines - by seeking to constrain social interactions around assignment work - may create an uncomfortable incoherence between their prescriptions and well-established patterns of study.


Crook, C., & Elizabeth, N. (2019). The social anatomy of 'collusion'. British Educational Research Journal, 45(2), 388-406.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 12, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 10, 2019
Publication Date 2019-04
Deposit Date Jan 14, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2020
Journal British Educational Research Journal
Print ISSN 0141-1926
Electronic ISSN 1469-3518
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 2
Pages 388-406
Keywords Education
Public URL
Publisher URL


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