India: What Do Academicians Need To Know About Plagiarism And UGC Regulations, 2018

Last Updated: 18 September 2019
Article by Lucy Rana and Meril Mathew Joy

Plagiarism has been the most complicated educational evil in academic and knowledge publications, wherein contents of other authors are used by people without due acknowledgement to the original author. There are various do's and don'ts which one should generally follow while making a publication (a post in this regard can be found here), however with the increase in the plagiarism percentage and in order to maintain the integrity of the academics, the UGC was in process of bringing in regulations to prevent this social evil.

The new UGC regulations of 2018, titled the "University Grants Commission (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2018", brings about a special emphasis on the need for a more aware and integrity driven conduct of academicians indulging in any research or academic writing. The objectives of the UGC Regulations 2018 are:

  • Create awareness about responsible conduct for academic research and writing and promote academic integrity.
  • Prevention of plagiarism in academic writing.
  • To establish systems through education and training to facilitate this responsible conduct.
  • To establish systems to detect plagiarism and set a prevention mechanism and punishment for those who breach the responsible conduct.

One of the highlights of these regulations is the establishment of mechanisms under two authoritative bodies, Departmental Academic Integrity Panel (DAIP) and Institutional Academic Integrity Panel (IAIP), of the Higher Educational Institution (HEI) dealing with detection of plagiarism and punishment thereof as prescribed by the regulations. These two bodies will deal with detection at two different spheres, one being departmental and the other one being institutional.

The onus of responsibility to sensitize about matters of research, giving due acknowledgment and imbibe academic integrity falls upon the Higher Educational Institution. The responsibilities as prescribed by this regulation for the Higher Educational Institutions are as follows:

  • Include the cardinal principles of academic integrity in the curricula.
  • Include elements of responsible conduct of research as a compulsory course module for Masters and Research Scholars.
  • Include the above elements in the orientation and refresher course.
  • Train academicians on using plagiarism detection tools.
  • Establish a facility equipped with modern technologies for plagiarism detection.
  • Encourage academicians to register on international researcher's Registry systems.

The regulations further talk about the curbing of plagiarism and similarity of content that is excluded from the purview of plagiarism. The regulations define plagiarism as "the practice of taking someone else's work or idea and passing them as one's own." To curb this, the UGC Regulations stipulate that the Higher Educational Institutions must implement technological measure to check the plagiarism percentage in the academic writings and this technological measure shall be accessible to all the people engaged in research work and writing in the institutions. Further, any work being submitted by the students or faculty or staff, must be accompanied with a declaration that such work is free of plagiarism. In view of this regulation, the institutions also have to develop a plagiarism policy and shall get it approved by relevant statutory authority.

The regulations also provide for the institutions to submit the soft copies of all Masters, Research program's dissertations and thesis within a month after the award of degrees, for hosting in the digital repository under the "Shodh Ganga e-repository". Further, the supervisor for the submission shall submit a certificate that the work done by the researcher under him is free of any plagiarism. Apart from submitting soft copies for the "Shodh Ganga e-repository" the institution must also create and maintain an Institutional Repository on institute website which shall include dissertation / thesis / paper /publication and other in-house publications. The Higher Educational Institution to curb plagiarism should also provide for a system of checking the documents / manuscripts prior to forwarding / submission.

What is not plagiarism?

  • All quoted work reproduced with all necessary permission and/or attribution.
  • All references, bibliography, table of content, preface and acknowledgements.
  • All generic terms, laws, standard symbols and standards equations.
  • Exclude common knowledge or coincidental terms, up to fourteen (14) consecutive words.

Levels of Plagiarism and Its Penalty

As per the regulations, plagiarism is divided into the following four levels based on the percentage of the plagiarized content, and the penalty for each level is also clearly mentioned:

Level Margin of Plagiarism Penalty for Plagiarism
Level 0 Plagiarism upto 10% No Penalty
Level 1 Plagiarism upto 10%- 40% For thesis and dissertations: Resubmission of a revised script by the student within a time period not exceeding 6 months

For academic and research publications: Withdrawal of the manuscript by the candidate.
Level 2 Plagiarism upto 40%- 60% For thesis and dissertations: Student will be debarred from submitting the revised script for a year.

For academic and research publications: The candidate will be asked to withdraw the manuscript and be denied a right to one annual increment. Along with not being allowed to be a supervisor to any new Master's, M.Phil., Ph.D. Student/scholar for a period of two years.
Level 3 Plagiarism upto 60% or more For thesis and dissertations: The registration for the programme for the student shall be cancelled.

For academic and research publications: The candidate will be asked to withdraw the manuscript and be denied a right to two annual increments in succession. Along with not being allowed to be a supervisor to any new Master's, M.Phil., Ph.D. Student/scholar for a period of three years

Detection and handling of Plagiarism

If any member of the institution believes that plagiarism has take place, they can report the same to the departmental body, i.e. the Departmental Academic Integrity Panel (DAIP). Upon receipt of such complaint the DAIP shall investigate and submit recommendations to the Institutional Academic Integrity Panel (IAIP) of the Higher Educational Institute. The role, function and composition of the DAIP and the IAIP are provided for as well under the regulations.

Other Circumstances where Plagiarism is observed

Penalty on repeated plagiarism For thesis and dissertations: The punishment for plagiarism would be that of one level higher than the previous level committed by the student. Where plagiarism of highest level is committed then the same punishment as given for the highest level shall be operative.

For academic and research publications: The candidate will be asked to withdraw the manuscript and be punished for the plagiarism of one level higher than the lower level committed by him/her. Where plagiarism of highest level is committed then the punishment for the same shall be operative.

In case level 3 offence repeated then the disciplinary action including suspension/termination as per service rules shall be taken by the HEI.
Penalty in case where the degree/credit has already been obtained For thesis and dissertations: If plagiarism is proved at any point later than the date of award of degree or credit as the case may be then the student's degree or credit shall be put in abeyance for a period recommended by the IAIP and approved by the Head of the Institution.

For academic and research publications: If plagiarism is proved on a date later than the date of benefit or credit obtained as the case may be then his/her benefit or credit shall be put in abeyance for a period recommended by IAIP and approved by the Head of the Institution.
Procedure in case of plagiarism where the Head of the Institution or any Head / members of the DAIP or IAIP are involved. Head: A suitable action to be taken against the head, by the Controlling Authority of the HEI in lines with this regulation.

Head DAIP / IAIP: A suitable action to be taken, as recommended by the IAIP and approved by the Competent Authority.

Members DAIP / IAIP: The members shall excuse himself / herself from the meeting(s) where his/her case is being discussed/investigated.

Conclusion

The new UGC Regulations on Plagiarism are drafted to meet every need of maintaining quality and integrity in the academic circuits. Its aim to provide stringent check points and systems to be integrated in the educational institutions are very well detailed and leave no stones unturned. The key highlights of the regulations include the addition of the definition of "Academic Integrity" as well as the provision for the "Departmental Academic Integrity Panel" and the "Institutional Academic Integrity Panel" to check and enforce the regulations and maintain a certain high educational standard for research and academic submissions for any and all HEIs.

With these regulations, the Institutions has a core responsibility to ensure working in direction of curbing the plagiarized contents and uphold academic integrity. With access to unlimited information on a subject matter, it is easy to compile the content without putting efforts of analyzing the contents for relevance. However, with strict regulations the author will be under a liability to ensure original creation which will ultimately help the author with overall academic and intellectual growth.

For further information please contact at S.S Rana & Co. email: info@ssrana.in or call at (+91- 11 4012 3000). Our website can be accessed at www.ssrana.in

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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