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By Way2k Way2k
Way2k 25 Sep 2012
In copy-paste era, e-age cutoff

A research student studying at any of the state run universities in Gujarat can today easily get away with a copy-paste job and cheat on assignments. Reason, the varsities are frozen in the past, refusing to adopt new software and other aides to check this wrong doing by students. No wonder, in the last decade various state-run universities have reported only eight instances of plagiarism.

In copy-paste era, e-age cutoff

In the internet era, wide choice of eBooks and research papers available on PDF search engines, finishing a dissertation or a PhD thesis without much effort is easy as clicking a mouse. However, except for a few elite institutions, none of the universities in Gujarat are equipped to zero in on students copying paragraphs or even chapters from somewhere and passing it off as their own. Institutions like Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Cept University, MICA, NID and SVNIT Surat have subscribed to specialized software to single out plagiarized works. Software like Turnitin and Viper are run on the electronic versions of the thesis and project works before awarding students their degrees.

At NID, specialized jury panels analyze creative works of students and pinpoint plagiarized portions of the work. Cept University this year has put 130 research works through the software scanner. Today close to 800 students are awarded PhDs by state-run universities. Almost 70% of these researchers earn a doctorate in chemistry. Then there are close to 1,500 M.Phil students and 5,000 master’s students, who submit dissertations as part of their course work. Plagiarism cases, as admitted by respective vice chancellors, are increasing and in the absence of a policy or a mechanism in place many research works are passed off without any check. At IIM-A students who are caught plagiarizing work are given different degrees of punitive measures as per the extent of plagiarism. Sometimes students have to repeat a semester or an entire year.

Instances of plagiarism have dropped considerably in the last few years because of specialized software as it uses the internet to cross-check research works, said IIM-A director Samir Barua. He adds that the faculty alerts students against plagiarism as soon as they join the institute. The students are introduced to a style guide that our faculty has developed. This orients students on how to write their thesis and assignments and give due credits, says Barua.

Times View:
To plagiarize has become increasingly easy in the age of Google Books and Wikipedia and there will always be some lazy students and researchers who will blindly copy from online sources without giving them credit. Universities must fight against this cut-&-paste culture and ensure academic standards do not drop. For years, most foreign universities have been using software to detect plagiarism. It is about time Indian educational institutions follow suit.

Soft aide:
Turnitin is online software first developed by University of California students in the early 1990s to detect plagiarism. The software is mostly used in academic institutes for verifying the originality of research works. When the soft copy of a work is uploaded to the online software, it gives out a report. The result will tell what percentage of the total work has been copied from other published works and provides a detailed list of the lines or paragraphs that have been copied. The report will also tell if the due credit has been given to source.

Courtesy: Times of India

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