Be original: HEC gets firm in fight against plagiarism

Published: December 11, 2011
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Number of cases reported and awareness about ‘policy’ increasing.

Number of cases reported and awareness about ‘policy’ increasing.

ISLAMABAD: 

Claiming to have awakened to the importance of “intellectual honesty”, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is now laying added emphasis on tackling the issue of plagiarism.

Although muted, the awareness of the educational institutes to curb the practice of presenting “someone else’s ideas or work as your own” is increasing.

Speaking to the members of Quality Assurance Division on Friday, Dr Javaid Laghari illustrated this trend by quoting 104 plagiarism cases that have been received by the HEC since 2006. Out of these, 86 have been resolved and 18 are still being reviewed by the universities or the HEC. The number of cases being received is also rising, he said.

“Universities are required to constitute plagiarism standing committees comprising three senior professors, one subject expert and an HEC nominee, along with a student representative if the specific case pertains to a student,” said Dr Laghari.

Explaining the process, he said that universities are given 90 days to investigate the cases. If the university has not taking any action, the HEC plagiarism standing committee plays its part and may blacklist faculty members who are not entitled to any financial benefit from the HEC, he said. The names of those officials will remain blacklisted until appropriate action is taken by the respective university.

Furthermore, the plagiarism detection service, Turnitin, has been made accessible to all public and private sector universities for greater efficiency in implementing the policy, he said. The service helps in identifying similarities with the online content.

Training is also being provided by the HEC to universities for better usage of this service and to interpret the results accurately.

The HEC chief stressed on the need to ensure quality at all levels, adding that “justice delayed is justice denied”.

According to Dr Laghari, the plagiarism policy circulated by the HEC in 2007 provides complete guidance about the process of investigation, procedure for constitution of plagiarism standing committees and punishments. “The policy apprises students, faculty members and staff who are involved in research about plagiarism, including its different manifestations and consequences and punishments,” he said.

Time management, demands of a new work environment, weak writing skills and lack of research publication culture at universities are some of the reasons cited by experts for plagiarism. Dr Laghari asked the universities to address these factors and also advocated better workload distribution among teachers so that they could manage the issue effectively.

“These factors may contribute towards an environment where researchers reproduce already published information with their names so that they may be promoted on time,” he added.

Talking to The Express Tribune, HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi said that out of the unresolved plagiarism cases, five related to PhD degrees have been challenged and action is being taken against the persons.

“Awareness about plagiarism is also increasing and it has become much easier to detect plagiarism due to the availability of advanced technology,” said Dr Naqvi.

He said that many degrees were cancelled and many people were dismissed from service due to plagiarism.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2011.

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