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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Mumbai University not using UGC plagiarism checker despite reminders

mumbai Updated: Oct 15, 2019 00:31 IST
Priyanka Sahoo
Priyanka Sahoo

Two months after the University Grants Commission (UGC) made a plagiarism-detection software available to all higher education institutes in the country, the University of Mumbai (MU) is yet to use it despite a series of reminders.

UGC is the apex body that governs all higher educational institutes in the country.

In May, the UGC had issued an exclusive notice to the university for not implementing any anti-plagiarism framework to screen PhD theses submitted by students. Soon after, in August, the UGC made the anti-plagiarism software ‘URKUND’ available on a trial basis to all universities. The trial started on September 1. However, MU is yet to start using the software, said sources in the university.

According to official figures, the university receives around 350 thesis and research papers every year from scholars in its departments, research centres and affiliated colleges. On an average, the university hands out 330 PhDs annually.

However, none of the theses go through a plagiarism check, said a senior professor from the university, on the condition of anonymity. The university had converted its library and thesis department into a cell for anti-plagiarism methods. “The university doesn’t have a digital repository of information on scholars as well as their works. This makes it difficult for the university to screen all PhD theses,” said the professor. Earlier the varsity had planned to purchase licences for Turnitin software, but the plan did not take off. Now that the URKUND software is available for free, utilisation of the software has not started.

University pro vice-chancellor Ravindra Kulkarni was unavailable for a comment. An official from the thesis department said not all theses are being screened, but work has already started.

“We are just starting to use the URKUND software. At the moment, the licence is shared if any faculty member asks for it,” he said, without divulging details on how many faculty members have accessed the licence so far. However, no official communication has come from the university about the use of the software, said professors.

“We have recently purchased the rights for Turnitin software. We are demonstrating it to faculty members. From now on, all theses will go through Turnitin,” said pro vice-chancellor Ravindra Kulkarni.

It is important to note that last year, a city college lecturer had made a complaint of plagiarism against senior Economics professor Neeraj Hatekar. In the absence of an Institutional Academic Integrity Panel (IAIP), the university has formed a new committee to look into the matter.

In yet another violation of the UGC guidelines, not all theses are uploaded on the central repository of Shodhganga. As on date, there are only 214 theses under MU that are uploaded on Shodhganga. “We have started uploading theses on Shodhganga. It will take some time but we will soon upload all the research work,” said an official from the thesis department.

In comparison, other reputed state universities such as Madras University, Anna University, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Benaras Hindu University and Allahabad University, have been using the URKUND or other anti-plagiarism softwares for at least two years now. Most of these universities have special systems allowing one to check any documents for plagiarism.

This is in accordance with the UGC regulations issued in July 2018 on the Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Educational Institutions. The UGC asked the universities to set up IAIP to promote academic integrity and to develop systems to detect plagiarism.

According to the apex body, any similarity of over 10 per cent in two documents is considered plagiarism or duplication. The regulatory body also laid down penalties for plagiarism — no penalty for similarities up to 10 per cent; revision of script within six months for similarities above 10 per cent to 40 per cent; debarred from submitting a revised script for a period of one year for similarities above 40 per cent to 60 per cent; cancellation of registration for similarities above 60 per cent.