Mumbai University to frame anti-plagiarism guidelines based on UGC rules, set up panel to curb problem

FP Staff
The Mumbai University is set to formulate its own guidelines to tackle plagiarism based on the rules given by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in August this year.

The Mumbai University is set to formulate its own guidelines to tackle plagiarism based on the rules given by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in August this year.

The Times of India reported that the varsity has decided to acquire a plagiarism software and that a committee will be formed to put the guidelines in place.

In August 2018, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) approved new regulations on plagiarism drafted by the UGC. The 'UGC (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Education Institutions) Regulations, 2018 prescribe graded punishment for plagiarism.

UGC regulations against plagiarism

The guidelines laid down penalties for both, students and professors found with plagiarised content. A large extent of plagiarism could result in the loss of registration in the course for the student, and dismissal from job for the teacher.

For students, plagiarism of up to 10 percent would not invite any penalty, while that of between 10 percent and 40 percent would mean the students have to submit a revised research paper within six months. In case the similarities are between 40 percent and 60 percent, students will be debarred from submitting a revised paper for one year. However, for plagiarism of more than 60 percent, a student's registration for a programme will be cancelled.

Teachers whose academic and research papers have similarities ranging from 10 percent to 40 percent with other papers will be asked to withdraw the manuscript. In case the similarities are between 40 percent and 60 percent, they will not be allowed to supervise new masters, MPhil, PhD students for two years and will also be denied the right to one annual increment, it said. In case of repeat plagiarism of over 60 percent similarity, the faculty members will be suspended, even dismissed.

The new regulations prescribe that if any member of the academic community suspects with appropriate proof that a case of plagiarism has happened in any document, he or she shall report it to the Departmental Academic Integrity Panel (DAIP). "Upon receipt of such a complaint or allegation, the DAIP shall investigate the matter and submit its recommendations to the Institutional Academic Integrity Panel (IAIP) of the Higher Education Institutions (HEI).

"The authorities of HEI can also take suo motu notice of an act of plagiarism and initiate proceedings under these regulations. Similarly, proceedings can also be initiated by the HEI on the basis of findings of an examiner. All such cases will be investigated by the IAIP," the regulations said.

According to the UGC statement, the objectives of the regulations are: "To create academic awareness about responsible conduct in research work, to establish an institutional mechanism through education and training to facilitate responsible conduct, and to develop systems to detect plagiarism and set up mechanisms to prevent it."

An important distinction has been made in the regulations, and that is for the complete originality of 'core work' of a project. The core work is covered under the 'Zero Tolerance Policy on plagiarism' and is to be observed by students and faculty. "In case plagiarism is established in the core work claimed then Plagiarism Disciplinary Authority (PDA) of the institution shall impose a maximum penalty. The core work shall include abstract, summary, hypothesis, observations, results, conclusions and recommendations," the regulations state.

Mumbai University and plagiarism

In January 2018, professor Neeraj Hatekar of the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy (MSEPP) was accused of plagiarising from his wife, Rajani Mathur's, MPhil dissertation for his PhD thesis in 1993. Swati Vohra, a professor at Rizvi College had made the accusation.

DNA reported that, in March 2018, Hatekar defended himself and said, "The complaint is baseless. I had presented a paper in 1991-92 from which my wife cited a few ideas for her MPhil dissertation. The varsity can verify the claims and pass a verdict if it has norms, with respect to writing a research paper, in place."

According to The Times of India, Hatekar also claimed that Mumbai University did not have anti-plagiarism rules in place according to UGC guidelines. He wrote to the governor requesting that the varsity be directed to adopt the UGC guidelines as a framework to deal with plagiarism cases.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)'s policy on plagiarism

According to the document 'What is Plagiarism?', created by the JNU library, a mandatory Turnitin check and certification is required for all theses and dissertations done by MPhil and PhD students. Training workshops for faculty and students are organised, which include workshops on ethics and research methodology. The digital submission of any work is compulsory.

Software to curb plagiarism

In June, the Ministry of Human Resource Development announced the introduction of 'Turnitin' software to help curb increasing instances of plagiarism in work done by students in higher education institutes. Prakash Javadekar, HRD minister, said, "The Central government has taken strong steps to keep a check on such practices of plagiarism in PhD research. One person's PhD thesis has been wrongly used by some others to complete their theses. As such cases are on the rise, we have decided to use software such as 'Turnitin' and others to keep a check on such theses."

However, Business Standard reported that the company said that the software is not designed to detect plagiarism. The Turnitin software gives an indication of the 'amount of similarity' between the work being evaluated, and the original report. "Hence, the 'Similarity Index', is not exactly a 'Plagiarism Index', the report said.

With inputs from agencies

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