The Bangalore Mirror today publishes a report: Ctrl-C-Ctrl-V, but only up to 25%, VTU tells its PhD students, with the sub-heading
“After installing new anti-plagiarism software to sniff out borrowed material, the technology varsity has realistically left some room for ‘permissible lifting’.”
It seems that students have been turning in their PhD theses with more than 50% “borrowed” material.
A VTU official said the new plagiarism software aims to inculcate in students respect for academic integrity and discipline, even as it identifies acts of dishonesty.
To restore credibility to the University’s degrees, and (as stated in the article) “to inculcate in students respect for academic integrity and discipline, even as it identifies acts of dishonesty,” the amount of allowable plagiarism is to be capped at 25%:
VTU has now fixed the acceptable level of plagiarism at 25 per cent. But this comes with a caveat — even a 0.5 per cent variation from the ‘permissible level’, will lead to rejection of the thesis.
Be warned, students.
Some may think that 25% is generous (or is “disingenuous’ the word I am looking for?), but the University Vice-Chancellor is reported as suggesting that this is in fact very strict:
(VTU vice-chancellor ) Maheshappa said, “It is a known fact that most new theses being submitted are coming up short on uniqueness. In fact, worldwide, universities are reconciled to accepting up to 30 per cent of similarity with published material. We, however, have taken a tough view by putting a cap of 25 per cent,” he said.
It’s a pity that Dr Maheshappa did not name his sources for this pronouncement. There may be a … misunderstanding somewhere?
There is a complicated procedure for submission and for resubmission of theses. In the first stage, students submit their theses to the software, and are are permitted to edit their work to get below 25%. Once the student signs off on the work, theses are subject to two more checks, and decision made as to the work’s
A little investigation at the university’s website soon found what is surely confirmation of the new procedures: a document with the heading “Objectives of Anti-Plagiarism” states on the very first page
Permitted Similarity index <= 25%
Can’t argue with that.
This document also suggests that the software being used is Turnitin; there is an illustration of a Turnitin originality report.
One wonders – or at least I wonder – what education and training students and faculty are being given in the use of the software and the reports.