Assuming a student wrote a paper on their own and submitted it to turnitin. AFTER they graduated, if their paper is accessed (with consent) by an undergraduate student who is studying a same course and the paper is plagiarised by that student (without consent), is it collusion?

1 Answer 1


It could be collusion or not, but it can certainly be charged as such. Collusion requires knowledge and consent. But the source of the paper certainly enabled the plagiarism even if unintentionally.

But giving the paper to the other student is improper in any case since it interferes with the learning of that student, unless the professor was also informed. It attempts to short-circuit learning by making it "seem" like the student has some knowledge that they don't possess.

Some things that seem like "help" are actually hinderances. Students need to learn through their own efforts if they are to later successfully use their knowledge.

  • Thanks for your answer. Can I further ask that is collusion applies to graduates? Becuase in the case I mentioned, the one who leaked the paper is a graduate rather than current student. Moreover, I am a little confuse about the fine line: for example, if a graduate post his own attempt on past year exam question on internet, and students plagiarise it, does it count collusion? Thank you.
    – Qwerty
    Apr 27 at 13:13
  • The timing is immaterial. While posting exam material in a public place is inadvisable, there is no collusion. Professors shouldn't really reuse such things, but the reality is that they do. Fraternities in the US (did, do) kept extensive files of exam materials for use by future members (files as in file drawers). That was a form of collusion because of its intent. If professors know this and don't reuse old exams then it is benign and can be a source of study material. However, reading solutions is not the same as producing solutions, so it also can sabotage learning.
    – Buffy
    Apr 27 at 13:20
  • sorry just one more question: so if what is leaked is just past exam paper attempt or study notes but not a paper, there is no collusion?
    – Qwerty
    Apr 27 at 14:28
  • 2
    I disagree - collusion would be the original author actively assisting someone copying their material. Just letting somebody else read a paper of yours is not collusion.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 27 at 15:03
  • 2
    At various universities, at least some student papers are explicitly made public. This includes PhD theses, but includes many other things as well. No one would accuse the author of collusion should somebody else plagiarize from them. Why would a privately shared paper necessarily be treated differently? There are many good reasons to do so, including providing a review of background literature, sharing references, and providing a solid foundation so the other student can extend the work.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 27 at 15:15

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