UGC moves to check plagiarism in research

Md Solamain Salman

31 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken an initiative to check plagiarism in research as many university teachers are involved in such unethical practice in the country.

As part of the initiative, the UGC will formulate a national policy to check plagiarism while it will also provide online plagiarism detection tool to all the universities to check the research works.

According to Oxford University, plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form is covered under this definition.

Plagiarism is considered a serious offence across the world. Even, the neighbouring India and Pakistan have their national policies for checking plagiarism incidents but there is no such policy in Bangladesh.

UGC officials said the commission took a decision in principle that the commission will follow zero tolerance policy regarding the plagiarism incident as they are taking all-out efforts to check the unethical works aiming to ensure transparency in research.

The commission on Sunday decided to send letters to all the universities to know how many universities are using the online tools like ‘Turnitin’ software to check plagiarism.

Talking to the Daily Sun, UGC member Prof Dr Sazzad Hossain said, “We are taking all-out steps, including formulation of a policy, to make plagiarism free research at the higher educational institutes.”

Prof Sazzad also said the incidence of plagiarism in research in the country’s universities is increasing day by day due to lack of a national policy in this regard.

“A policy for the use of ‘Turnitin’ software will be formulated soon while a guideline on long-term use of the software will be made,” he said, adding that the purchase and installation of the software is expensive. “So, we have to keep an eye on its maximum use.”

UGC’s purchase committee regarding plagiarism checker web service on Sunday took a decision to buy ‘Turnitin’ software and it will be given to all the universities gradually to check plagiarism.

Currently, there are 49 public universities and 107 private universities across the country. The universities have conducted thousands of research projects in different fields.

Now only 17 universities are using the ‘Turnitin’ software to check plagiarism in research but there is no software or other online tools at other universities to detect the cheating.

UGC officials said at first they will provide the ‘Turnitin’ software to 30 public and private universities while all the universities will get the software gradually.

UGC member Prof Dr Abu Taher said, “The use of the software to detect plagiarism will be ensured at all the universities of the country in phases. It will be easier to protect the rights and originality of research using the Turnitin software.”

He also said, “The software will play an important role in preserving and developing the quality of research activities of all concerned, including the teachers and students of the universities.”

“We want an end to any kind of theft in researches as Bangladesh is now a developing country,” said Prof Taher, adding that the higher education will not be able to go very far if plagiarism continues in research works.

Sources said research projects help university teachers get promotions. But many teachers in the country get promotions by submitting plagiarised research works.

But the universities cannot take action against such plagiarised research due to the absence of a national policy for plagiarism.  Even, no Bangladeshi university has a policy regarding the plagiarism.

It was also found that some universities have detection machines like software for research papers written in English but there is no machine for checking Bangla.

The UGC in its 46th annual report said the plagiarism incidents at the universities are increasing day by day but there is no policy regarding plagiarism. So, preparing a policy is a must now.

Sources said there are four types of punishment for plagiarism in India. The first tier, for what it calls ‘similarities up to 10 percent,” carries no penalty.

The second tier, in which 10 percent to 40 percent of a document is plagiarised, requires students to submit a revised manuscript and forces faculty members to withdraw the plagiarised paper.

If 40 to 60 percent of the document is plagiarised, students must be suspended for a year and the faculty members must forfeit an annual pay raise and are prohibited from supervising students for two years.

If over 60 percent of thesis is plagiarised, the student must be kicked out of the programme, while the penalties for faculty members are extended to a loss of two years of pay increases and a three-year ban on supervising students.

The penalties would presumably be applied to each offence, and faculty members found to be repeat offenders “at the highest level” would also be subject to disciplinary action.

In Pakistan, there are major punishments for plagiarisms, including dismissal from service and blacklisting, while moderate punishments consist of demotion or blacklisting.

Minor punishments consist of warnings, freezing research grants, stopping promotions, or being debarred from supervisorship of PhDs.

Recently, the plagiarism issue came to the fore after the syndicate of Dhaka University (DU) has taken disciplinary action against three teachers for resorting to plagiarism in their academic papers and a PhD thesis.