Handling of plagiarism in education at KTH
Internal regulations 8/2011
Plagiarism is a problem all over the world today and KTH supports the worldwide efforts to address the problem of student plagiarism.
Plagiarism is defined at KTH as “submitting someone else’s work as one’s own”.
Legal handling of plagiarism cases
According to Chapter 10. § 1 of The Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), disciplinary measures may be taken against students who are trying to deceive during examinations or when academic work is judged.
The disciplinary measures that may be considered is either a warning or suspension.
Attempts to deceive
The term "attempt to deceive" means that the student has attempted to give the teacher / examiner the wrong idea about their academic work. If the student actually managed to deceive is of no importance, but it is the attempt itself that is the unlawful conduct. It is therefore sufficient that the student has acted in a way that may reasonably be assumed to aim to give the teacher/examiner a misleading perception of their own performance.
When there is a neutral and objective basis for suspicion of deception, a report must be filed to the president.
The president decides which complaints are to be referred to the Disciplinary Board for a decision.
In determining whether a submitted work is plagiarism the following factors are usually included:
- The consistency of the student's thesis / PM and someone else's work.
- The size of the text that is suspected to be plagiarized.
- The use of citations, footnotes and quotation marks / inverted commas.
- The student's duty to find out what rules apply at KTH.
- If KTH has fulfilled its obligation to maintain the existing rules / regulations available to the students.
Copyright and plagiarism of text
The Disciplinary Board will not consider whether a suspected case of plagiarism could also be a violation of § 22 Act (1960:729) on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works. It may still be worth noting that virtually all published texts are also protected by copyright. In order to not risk violating copyright law, all citations must be made in accordance with proper usage. What is considered proper usage varies depending on the context. In general, and provided that it always refers to the source and the author, it is considered permissible to reproduce passages from another's work when a quote is made to aid in the production of criticizing, expounding, or illuminating the other work or to emphasize the position or to further develop what is said in the quoted section.
Examples of what is defined as plagiarism:
- Copying text, problem solutions, computer programs, drawings/diagrams and pictures without specifying that the subsequent text involves word-for-word reproduced material without quotation marks and reference to source. Copying other students’ work is also defined as plagiarism.
- Using ideas, data or other material without specifying the source. Work which is excepted from this rule includes any which can be regarded as general knowledge in the field in question.
- Summarizing or rewriting a text in such a way that the original is essentially unchanged. If the newly written text contains general knowledge in the field in question, it is excepted from this rule, but even then citation may be useful as a way of increasing the student’s credibility as a writer.
- Too close cooperation with other students in a piece of work that is meant to be individual, i.e., the student uses another student’s discoveries and insights in his/her work without specifying that such use has occurred.
- Translating a piece of work without stating the original source.
Examples of cases which should not be reported as plagiarism:
- If there is no factually or impartially based support for suspicion of attempting to deceive. The rules for the examination do not contain information that is relevant to the way in which the instructions are to be applied in the task in question.
- The student has only submitted a piece of work to receive feedback or guidance.
- The scope of the plagiarism is very small.
Incorrect use of citations or referencing
The section according to the Higher Education Ordinance above refers to attempts to deceive. Cases of incorrect use of citations or referencing must also be addressed by the teacher/examiner, even where grounds for suspicion of attempt to deceive do not exist.
The consequences of incorrect use of citations or referencing should bear a relation to the level of the student’s knowledge and to the degree of gravity of the offence. In all cases, the student’s grade should be lowered so that the grade corresponds to the level of fulfillment of the learning outcomes which the work demonstrates. Depending on how serious the case is, a further measure may be for either a teacher or the contact person at the School to talk to the student, or for the student to be failed and given the grade Fx with the option of a complementary examination, or to fail the student with the grade F. The student is to be informed of the reason for the grade being lowered.