Rector’s decision 11/2013
Rules of use for the plagiarism recognition system at the University
18 January 2013
The University of Helsinki Educational Centre for ICT began to investigate the procurement
of a plagiarism recognition system and the associated actions required of the University and its faculties on 14 February 2011, as specified in the decision of the director of development. The investigation began with a pilot project among volunteering faculties, teachers and their students during 2011. Based on the results of this pilot project and the recommendations from the monitoring committee, the director of development decided on 16 January 2012 that the University would initiate the process to procure a plagiarism recognition system. The winning supplier was Urkund. Reasons for using the system
Teaching good academic and study practices is part of the University’s core duty, and
questions of research and teaching ethics must be treated with due seriousness. According to the Universities Act, universities must arrange their activities so as to assure a high international standard in research, education and teaching in conformity with ethical
principles and good scientific practice. The plagiarism recognition system is part of the
University’s normal quality assurance.
Equal treatment of all students and improved quality of grading must be observed when using the system. Using a plagiarism recognition system also sends out the message that the University of Helsinki considers plagiarism a serious offence.
Using the system
Using a plagiarism recognition system is part of the University of Helsinki quality assurance both in the supervision of studies and in grading theses for first- and second-cycle degrees, Licentiate theses, doctoral dissertations and other completed studies. The system may be accessed by all University of Helsinki employees who need it in their work duties.
Using the system is not a specific form or method of student supervision and assessment. Instead, it is a helpful tool in the normal process of supervision and grading. The report issued by the system can only indicate the percentage of similarity to existing texts. It is theduty of the supervisor or grading teacher to interpret the report and to draw the necessary conclusions.
As the plagiarism recognition system is part of the grading of studies, the student cannot forbid the use of the system in the examination of his or her work if a grade is required. This also applies to the supervision of theses and dissertations. The student’s work must be temporarily entered into the system for its inspection to be technically possible. However, the work cannot be recorded into the system to be used as reference material without the express consent of the student. Since recording the work in the system for such use is not necessary in terms of grading or supervision. The student’s consent to record the work into the system to be used as comparative material is optional and does not affect the grading. Education Services offers a practical overview of using the system, and is responsible for training users.
All second-cycle theses are inspected by the system when they are submitted for
examination as of 1 August 2013. *) Faculties and Central Administration will jointly draft the necessary instructions.
Unfinished sections of both theses and other assignments may be inspected in the system during the supervision process if necessary. If needed, faculties may provide more detailed instructions on using the system for the systematic examination of assignments, for pedagogical purposes, and for using the system in random checks.
Teachers may use the system to systematically inspect written works by students, to inspect an individual work suspected of plagiarism, or as a tool in supervision within the guidelines set by the University and faculty. Systematic inspections mean inspecting all assignments for a particular course or module during a particular time frame. The teacher may use the system to inspect an individual work if he or she has a reasonable suspicion of plagiarism, or to aid in supervision when needed. All students must be treated equally when using the system. The system must not be used arbitrarily.
Informing students of the system
Information on the plagiarism recognition system will be provided to students on the
University website, in course catalogues and on other appropriate channels. It is
recommended that teachers inform students if they intend to use the system during a
Students shall be provided with the opportunity to acquaint themselves with written or
otherwise recorded examinations as well as the report on their work issued by the system.
The graded work and report, or a link to the online report, must be presented to the student
on request. The teacher may also adjust the settings in the system to have a link to the
report be sent to students automatically. When examining a Master’s thesis, the student
must be allowed to review the report before grading is completed, at the latest in conjunction with being informed of the grade proposal.
If the report from the system gives rise to or supports a suspicion of plagiarism, such
suspicions will be processed following either the University’s internal procedures for
suspecting cheating and plagiarism in studies, or the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory
Board on Research Integrity for handling suspected allegations of misconduct in research,
depending on the nature of the work under discussion. Any suspicions arising from or
supported by the system when used in supervision will be similarly processed. When the
student is informed that he or she is suspected of plagiarism and is given an opportunity toreport issued by the system on the work in question.
The system can also be used in admissions, for example, in examining research plans or in similar contexts. In such cases, the applicant must be informed in advanced that the work will be inspected for plagiarism as part of the admissions or other similar process.
The system may also be used to inspect a thesis which has already been approved at the
University of Helsinki, if substantial suspicions arise that the work may not conform to the
responsible conduct of research. The author of the thesis or dissertation must be informed of the intention to inspect the work due to a suspected breach of good scholarly conduct. And he or she must be given the opportunity to review the report and provide an explanation.
Transparency, confidentiality and storing of reports produced by the system
The reports produced by the system are official documents, and as such are governed by
the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999). As the report also indicates
the content of the assignment, thesis or dissertation, the rules of transparency and
confidentiality are similar to the original document itself:
- The report concerning a graded thesis or dissertation is a public document.
- Reports concerning other assignments are confidential both before and after grading.
- If the grading of a thesis or dissertation is interrupted on the student’s request,the associated report shall not be made public. If cheating is suspected in the thesis or dissertation about to be graded. And the matter is handled according to the University’s internal procedure or the instructions issued by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity. The ungraded thesis or dissertation and the associated report are made public once the matter is decided.
The reports are saved in the Urkund system for one year after the work has been inspected in the system. If a suspicion of plagiarism related to a student’s work is handled according to the University’s internal procedure or according to the instructions of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity, the report will be recorded along with the other documents related to the process.
Entry into force
These guidelines shall enter into force immediately.
*) Updated: new date 1 August, 2014