UGC mulling over law to curb academic plagiarism

Nowadays literary theft has gained acceleration in research areas across the world and hence it has become the need of the hour to stop this malpractice. To end this malpractice the hon’ble government is planning to bring in a law to stop rampant plagiarism in academia. Higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) is finalising a draft law in this matter. The draft is likely to be sent to the human resource development ministry for further action. Further, the government intends to seek parliamentary approval for the law this year itself. If the law gets passed, the punishment might range from a warning to deregistration in the case of students and dismissal from service for teachers.

UGC should further form a committee to formulate what is plagiarism. Put academic work through plagiarism software. Cut and paste has become very prominent. Sometimes, people do it inadvertently too. We need to work hard against plagiarism and focus on preventive rather than punitive action. If someone still does it, the punishment should come from the universities though legal recourse should be open too.

Anti-plagiarism software sanctioned last year

Last year, in the month of September University Grants Commission, sanctioned the anti-plagiarism software ‘URKUND’ free to 100 universities across the nation. The particular initiative was undertaken by UGC to stop plagiarism in research sector is commendable. If researchers were and had integrity in their work, there would be no need for the plagiarism detection software.

Plagiarism charges in past few years

Cheating has become an ever-present problem, be it in schools or universities today. Starting in lower level education, students are finding it easier to cheat and feeling less guilty about it, disregarding the effects it has on them and others around and the punishments they may face due to their actions. Most students are happy to work hard, try their best and accept the consequences. However, if we talk specifically about India, then, there are a host of universities and freelance writers who are prepared to help those who can’t be bothered even for the Ph.D. Thesis. In the past few months or say years, there has been a raft of plagiarism charges against central university vice-chancellors and teachers.

The regulation thus being prepared for prevention of plagiarism in higher education institutions will focus on all categories, including students pursuing Masters, M.Phil and Ph.D and teachers at different levels.

Penalty the students can face

Students will be let off with a warning if it is a minor case of plagiarism. But as the gravity of the charge increases, they may be barred from submitting a revised manuscript of their thesis or research paper for six months or even has their registration cancelled. To ensure intellectual honesty and academic integrity, different levels of punishment depending on seriousness will be implemented. It could be an advisory, a letter of displeasure, censure (of teachers). In some cases, a provision that such teachers or researchers will not be allowed to publish for a certain period can also be applied.

Reviews of the people

Former Delhi University V-C Deepak Penta, who faced plagiarism charges that he challenged in court, welcomed the move but said the UGC should not do it in isolation and, instead, consult the Indian National Science Academy and Indian Academy of Science, Bangalore.

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