Academic fraud and plagiarism
Translation from Finnish
(In case of conflicting interpretations, the original, official Finnish document rules.)
Rector’s decision on 13 June 2013, supplementing Section 24 of the Degree Regulations of the University of Jyväskylä
- Scope of application
- Principles of ethical conduct at the University
- The University takes all cases of academic fraud very seriously
- Academic fraud
- Teachers are obligated to make students aware of good practices in the academic community
- Using the plagiarism detection software
- General principles for dealing with suspected fraud
- Invigilator’s (proctor’s) or teacher’s actions in case of suspected fraud during an examination
- Teacher’s actions in case of fraud related to an assignment, essay or similar work
- Supervisor’s and examiner’s actions in case of fraud related to a final thesis
- Investigation phases of suspected academic fraud
- Consequences and related decision-making
- Legal protection of students
- Inspection of suspected academic fraud and the invalidation of approval for study units already completed and approved
Appendix 1. Instructions for different parties in the University community to prevent fraud
Appendix 2. Instructions to prevent plagiarism
Appendix 3. Distribution of responsibilities when processing a suspected fraud case and deciding on consequences
Appendix 4. Instructions for a student suspected of fraud
Where appropriate, this code of conduct applies to all degree students of the University of Jyväskylä and to all students who are completing separate studies or study modules. The group of degree students also includes students with separate agreements for commissioned studies, and the latter group also includes students who pursue Open University studies or studies with a flexible study rights agreement (JOO), as well as international exchange students. This code of conduct comprises instructions to students, teachers and units that provide teaching.
These instructions concentrate on the recognition and prevention of academic fraud. Therefore, they focus on the reprehensibility of academic fraud from the viewpoint of the University’s ethical principles as well as on the recognition of fraud, the importance of information and guidance directed to students, and the significance of teaching arrangements and methods that prevent fraud. In addition, these instructions provide procedures for dealing with suspected academic fraud and its consequences.
The University is a community that carries out scientific research and provides research-based higher education. The Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity, appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland, published its instructions for responsible conduct of research on 14 November 2012. These instructions cover research and education at a university (Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland, 2012, http://www.tenk.fi/fi/htk-ohje). Responsible conduct of research is part of quality management in an organisation committed to it. The University of Jyväskylä is one of the organisations committed to complying with the guidelines. The realisation of responsible conduct of research requires that the entire University community, both staff and students, are committed to the principles of responsible conduct of research.
In the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity, the following principles, in particular, are related to research ethics:
- The research follows the principles that are endorsed by the research community, that is, integrity, meticulousness, and accuracy in conducting research, and in recording, presenting, and evaluating the research results.
- The methods applied for data acquisition as well as for research and evaluation conform to scientific criteria and are ethically sustainable.
- When publishing the research results, the results are communicated in an open and responsible fashion that is intrinsic to the dissemination of scientific knowledge.
- When a researcher carries out his/her own research and publishes its results, he/she takes due account of the work and achievements of other researchers by respecting their work, citing their publications appropriately, and giving their achievements the credit and weight they deserve.
The University of Jyväskylä Ethical Principles approved by the University Board on 25 January 2012 (https://www.jyu.fi/hallinto/toimikunnat/eettinentoimikunta/eettiset_ohjeet) emphasise that all members of the University community are expected to be committed “to the high ethical principles which arise from the University’s core values”.
All operations are based on fair and honest courses of action.
Plagiarism or any other academic fraud by a student is not only an offence to the student’s teachers and supervisors but also an offence to the whole University community and the ethical principles the community follows.
The University and especially each unit that provides education must ensure the following:
- As part of their study plans, students learn what it means to follow the responsible conduct of research in their branch of science.
- Students adopt the principles of responsible conduct of research and commit to obey them.
- Students are familiar with the central content of this code of conduct for preventing academic fraud and plagiarism.
- Students are also otherwise guided to understand what academic fraud is and what consequences it may have.
A student is also responsible for finding out what kind of behaviour is appropriate and what kind is fraudulent in studies. If a student is uncertain of the acceptability of an action, the student must clarify the matter with his/her teacher or supervisor.
Internal and external confidence in the high quality of education at the University is based on the trust that a student who has successfully completed his/her studies has developed the knowledge, skills and competences specified in the learning outcome descriptions of degrees and curricula. Dishonesty in completing a degree or part of it or a fraudulent impact on their evaluation betrays this trust.
The University and everyone operating in it must take even the slightest fraud very seriously. If any teacher, other employee or student notices academic fraud, they must inform the representative of the unit. All proven cases of academic fraud will lead to consequences.
Fraud is generally defined as a dishonest deed made in order to mislead someone for personal gain or to damage another individual.
In the context of studies, fraud refers to any dishonest activity a student uses to give a false impression of his/her own or someone else’s skills in order to affect the approval or evaluation of a study unit.
Fraud means, for example, cheating on an exam, copying an essay or an assignment of another student, fabricating or falsifying measurement results or other findings, and participating in an examination on behalf of someone else. Letting another student use an assignment or other similar work knowing that the student will present it as his/her own is also considered academic fraud. It is fraudulent if a student submits his/her own previously approved exercise or similar work to complete another study unit (self-plagiarism) unless the use of a previous work has been separately agreed with the teacher or this possibility has been noted as appropriate for certain study units and is mentioned as a legitimate method in the instructions of the unit or subject.
If a study unit has been completed as group work, this must be clearly stated and, if possible, which part of the work each student was responsible for. Group work is a legitimate method to complete a study unit only when the teacher has so instructed.
Academic fraud may also be a legally recognised offence in case of a copyright infringement, a copyright crime, the forgery of a transcript of records, certificate or any other document, or trade with counterfeit items. The University may direct suspected crimes to be investigated by the police.
Plagiarism is a form of academic fraud. It is generally defined as activity in which a person represents the work of another person as his/her own original work.
Most often the target of plagiarism is written text. Therefore, these instructions focus on the unacknowledged borrowing of text. However, content other than shorter or longer written texts may also be plagiarised: a sheet of statistics presenting research results, a measurement result of laboratory work, a piece of programme code, a research idea or notification, a theoretical concept or definition, etc. In these cases the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity use the term misappropriation.
Plagiarism is copying another person’s work either directly or in a modified form (including translation from one language to another) without naming the source. A student must clearly refer to any written material he/she has used, be it unpublished or published either in a traditional print format or on the Internet. The student must use a sufficiently clear citation method during writing so that it is clear for the reader which part of the student’s text is borrowed, what is the cited publication or other material, and to which section of the publication or material the citation refers to (often page numbers).
Even though appropriate marking of references is essential to avoid plagiarism, it alone is not always sufficient. If a student uses a direct quotation from a source in his/her text, the cited part must be indicated with quotation marks.
It is also fraudulent to copy references to publications from a source to create the impression that the writer has used more literature than he/she really has.
According to the ethical principles of the University, teachers are obligated to support students’ learning, the development of their academic way of thinking and intervene in academic fraud when they notice it.
The best way for teachers to succeed in this duty is to make sure that they participate actively in the supervision of their students and show that they are interested in the output of their students and give feedback on it. Teachers must also express that they do not expect their students to be able to write as elegantly and clearly as the authorities of the field, but that they are genuinely interested in how the students understand and analyse ideas and how these skills develop.
Special attention should be paid to the guidance of international students. The rules of appropriate academic writing are not the same in all cultures, and the rights of a researcher to his/her own study are not always as individual-centred as they are in Finland. A teacher should describe and discuss with students the operating methods of the Western academic community.
In general, teachers must genuinely try to understand the reasons why students may become guilty of academic fraud. This will provide better means to prevent fraudulent practice.
In case of academic fraud other than plagiarism, it can generally be assumed that a student knows, on the basis of general norms, if his/her actions are fraudulent or not. Regardless of that, teachers should highlight the importance of the University community’s ethical principles to students right at the beginning of their studies and explain the short-sightedness of academic fraud when considering the targets of university studies. They should also discuss generally known ways to commit academic fraud and emphasise the reprehensibility of fraudulent practice. Even though skills to search, find and summarise information are important, it must be underlined to students that the ultimate target of university studies is to learn to analyse and interpret information.
It can also be assumed that in flagrant cases of plagiarism (e.g. presenting another person’s thesis as one’s own work) a student is capable to understand, on the basis of general norms, that his/her actions are fraudulent. However, teachers have the duty to guide students to adopt good practices of academic writing and understand that these practices are absorbed gradually during one’s studies through guidance and practical experience. The teaching of good practices must be integrated into the curricula of different subjects because the methods of academic writing differ to a certain extent in different disciplines.
However, guidance should do more than simply instruct students to avoid plagiarism. From this perspective, a student may act in an acceptable way without having adopted the good practices of academic writing. Sometimes this is called ‘a grey area’ between plagiarism and good academic writing. For example, a student may take a paragraph from another work and rewrite it in his/her own words in an essay without adding his/her own ideas, and then report the source appropriately. If a student’s essay is only a collection of paragraphs formulated in this manner, it is merely a repetition of other authors’ texts written ‘in one’s own words’. As an academic work, the essay would not substantially differ from what the student would have compiled had he/she used direct quotations in quotation marks one after another. This kind of an essay would hardly meet its general learning targets to develop academic thinking and skills. Often this kind of action indicates disregard for the goals of university studies.
The University of Jyväskylä offers its teachers plagiarism detection software for checking text-format student assignments that have been submitted for evaluation. Because the checked texts remain in the software database, the use of the programme will also protect students’ work from plagiarism.
The plagiarism detection software must be used to check all theses (bachelor’s, master’s and licentiate theses as well as doctoral dissertations). The thesis supervisor asks the student to send the thesis to be checked with the plagiarism detection software when the student plans to submit the thesis for evaluation, at the latest. If the thesis has several supervisors, they must agree who is responsible for checking the thesis with the plagiarism detection software at least once. The evaluators of a thesis/dissertation (including the preliminary examiners in case of a dissertation) must be informed that they may, upon request, get the report produced by the software and use it when evaluating the thesis if they so desire.
The University of Jyväskylä also recommends teachers to require from their students that the plagiarism detection software be used as widely as possible for other student performance documents as well.
Teachers should utilise the plagiarism detection software of the University as systematically as possible. At the same time, it should be understood that no tool alone can detect all cases of fraud.
If a teacher wants to check a document that counts towards the completion of a study unit, the student’s permission is needed because documents checked with the plagiarism detection software are saved in the software database. When the student is asked to submit the document for checking, he/she must first approve an agreement text that allows the document to be sent for checking.
When a student gives the approval to check his/her document with the plagiarism detection software, the document is saved in the software database. After that, the document is used when the works of students at other universities or higher education institutions are checked with the system. However, as the owner of the copyright, the student can prohibit the use of his/her document as a comparison source in the plagiarism detection software. In this case, the student’s document is checked but its content will not be visible in the analyses of other documents checked with the software.
If a student does not give permission to use the plagiarism detection software, he/she must contact the teacher who instructed the student to use the software and agree on further actions. Documents not checked with the plagiarism detection software must be checked against plagiarism with other means.
The teacher is responsible for interpreting the comparison results produced by the plagiarism detection software. Even though intentional plagiarism is reprehensible academic fraud, the teacher must consider if similarities between the student’s text and texts in the software database are merely an indication of incompetence rather than of intentional fraud. In the former case, the teacher may use the comparison results from the software as a pedagogic tool to guide the student. The teacher has the right to limit the number of times he/she gives feedback on different versions of a document written by the student.
A report submitted to a teacher from the plagiarism detection software must be saved at least for a year from the approval of the study unit if the comparison of the student’s text has not led to a fraud investigation. This saving period also applies to pre-examinations of a document produced by a student. If the report is related to a fraud allegation in a study unit and has led to an investigation, the report must be attached to other documents related to the matter and saved for at least ten years after the case of suspected fraud has been resolved.
Any case of suspected academic fraud is always investigated. When investigating a case of suspected fraud, it is important to document all investigation phases and evidence to prove the fraud as meticulously as possible. It is also important that the student is given the right guaranteed in the Administrative Procedure Act to ”submit an explanation on the demands and information which may have an effect on its decision” (Administrative Procedure Act 434/2003, Section 34). There is no obligation for a hearing if the matter is immediately rejected as groundless. The student has the right to be assisted by counsel at the hearings.
A central principle in handling a case of suspected fraud is that the teacher or other staff member who noticed the fraud does not personally carry out the investigation, does not request a statement on the matter from the student before it is resolved, and does not make decisions on possible consequences. The teacher has the duty to document, as clearly as possible, the evidence on which the fraud allegation is based. An exception is a situation in which the teacher assesses that the student’s actions may be a result of incompetence rather than an evident attempt at fraud. In this case, the teacher can decide not to start a fraud investigation but to guide the student to act appropriately. In these cases, the teacher informs the student how the student should correct the text before it is evaluated. To assess the situation, the teacher may contact the student before giving a notice to start an investigation.
The investigation of a case of suspected fraud is handled by the head of the department (or independent institute / service department) that has arranged the teaching to which the suspected fraud is related. If the head of department is the teacher who noticed the fraud, the responsibility of investigation is transferred to the dean. The dean is always responsible for the investigation of a case of suspected fraud if the allegation involves a master’s thesis, licentiate thesis or a doctoral dissertation submitted for evaluation. The dean must always inform the Rector of the University about academic fraud noticed in the aforementioned theses. In addition to fraud in studies, in these cases it also needs to be considered if the student’s actions must be investigated as a violation of the responsible conduct of research in accordance with the instructions of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity. The Rector of the University is responsible for this investigation.
If fraud is suspected, teachers and other University personnel must act so that the legal protection of the student is not endangered when solving the matter.
For international students, it must be remembered that Finnish and Swedish are the only official languages of administration in Finland. The main principle is that decisions and other documentation related to the process are primarily written in an official language of administration. In addition, the documents will be translated by an authorised translator for the student. Because the language of instruction for international students is primarily English, they can be expected to understand English when they are offered interpretation or translations of documents originally made in an official language of administration.
If a fraud allegation is shown to be unfounded, a new possibility must be arranged as soon as possible for the student to complete the interrupted examination or other study unit. Any suspected case of fraud must be clarified without delay and the decision must be announced to the student and to the person who suspected the fraud.
If the invigilator of an examination suspects or notices fraudulent practice, he/she must immediately intervene in it. Depending on the situation, the invigilator may, at his/her discretion, choose from the following two actions:
1. Oral notification. If the invigilator notices inappropriate items within the reach of a student or an attempt to discuss with another examinee, the invigilator may intervene in the matter by verbally notifying the examinee to observe the rules of examinations. If the question is only about a possible fraud attempt that will not occur again during the same examination, no other actions are taken.
2. Interruption of the examination. If a student does not observe the rules of examination regardless of an oral notification, or if the invigilator notices an obvious incident or an attempt at fraudulent practice, the invigilator shall interrupt the student’s examination. The student must return the examination papers on which the invigilator marks whether the student admits or contests the realised or attempted fraudulent practice. The invigilator informs the student that he/she will be contacted by the unit arranging the examination to clarify the matter. The invigilator shall record the reason for the interruption and, if necessary, his/her contact information on the examination papers. After this, the examination papers are delivered normally to the examiner who has the responsibility to take further action. If the invigilator is person other than the examiner of the study unit, the invigilator shall submit to the examiner a written explanation of reasons that led to the interruption of the examination. The invigilator must also report the names of any other witnesses to the fraudulent practice (e.g. another invigilator, other students participating in the examination).
Spot checks with cameras and voice recordings are used to supervise examinations in e-examination rooms. If fraudulent practice is suspected on the basis of observation, the invigilator shall make a recording of the image and voice material that has raised the suspicion and deliver it to the examiner of the study unit. If the student cannot be identified on the basis of the information in the systems, the material is delivered to all examiners possibly related to the case. When the student has been identified, all unrelated examiners who have received the material must be informed that the identity of the student has been determined. These examiners must then destroy the received recording.
If a teacher suspects or notices fraudulent practice in an exercise or similar work a student has made for completing a study unit, this also must be intervened in, even if the question is about a minor partial assignment. If fraudulent practice is noticed by an assistant teacher of the course, he/she shall report the observations to the course teacher or other person (e.g. the programme manager at the Open University) responsible for further actions normally taken care of by the teacher.
In a case of slight suspicion of fraud, a teacher may, at his/her discretion, instruct the student to work according to appropriate principles. In all other cases, the teacher must be prepared to bring the matter under investigation as a suspected case of academic fraud. In this case, the teacher documents the evidence on the suspected incidence of fraud. For example, when suspecting plagiarism a teacher must clearly present from which source the student’s work has been plagiarised and must demonstrate similarities between the student’s text and the source.
If a teacher aims to instruct a student to follow appropriate principles, the teacher must retain the student’s intermediary assignments to see if the student repeats the fraud attempt. If so, the action is considered intentional. The retention times for the documents follow the same principles as for the reports of the plagiarism detection software (see section 7).
A teacher must immediately inform a student in writing (e.g. by email) about his/her suspicions of fraud, at the latest, when the results of the study unit should be announced to the student. In the same connection, the student should be informed that the approval decision of the study unit will be postponed until the unit has clarified the matter. The teacher should not begin to handle the matter further with the student at this point. However, if it becomes clear that the evidence is not sufficient to prove fraudulent practice, the teacher reports that the allegation of fraud has been withdrawn and informs the students (in the case that the student has already been informed of the investigation).
If a teacher supervising a master’s thesis, licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation suspects academic fraud before the work is completed and submitted for examination, the teacher must act as instructed in section 10. In more minor cases, the teacher must instruct the student to use appropriate working methods. The teacher may use the plagiarism detection software of the University to support his/her view (see section 7). However, if the teacher concludes that the student is aware of the fraudulent practice and has tried to mislead the teacher, he/she shall make a statement in which he/she presents evidence of the student’s fraudulent practice.
If the suspicion of fraud arises after the evaluation process of a final thesis has started, the persons named as examiners or pre-examiners give a statement in which they present evidence of the fraud. They report their notifications to the faculty and, based on their statement, the examination process is interrupted until the case is resolved. The faculty informs the student of the allegation and that the examination of the thesis has been interrupted. In these cases also, the examiners’ statement must be given according to the schedule determined by the faculty for the examination of the thesis.
If a student is to continue a final thesis after academic fraud has been detected, the student must clarify to the teacher how he/she will correct the work so that it is no longer based on fraudulent practice.
Once the teacher responsible for a module or course or the supervisor of a final thesis have compiled evidence on a suspected fraud, they report their allegation to the head of the department or the director of the independent institute or service department and deliver the material to him/her during this phase, at the latest. If the faculty has no departments, the fraud allegation is reported either to the professor responsible for the subject or directly to the dean. The investigation of the fraud allegation and the decision on its consequences are carried out by the department (or independent institute / service department) that has arranged the teaching to which the allegation is related.
The head of department must hear the student and then assess, on the basis of the hearing and evidence presented by the teacher, if there is sufficient proof of fraudulent practice, and then decide on further actions. If there is not enough proof of fraudulent practice, the allegation is dropped. This is then informed to the student and to the presenter of the allegation. If the head of department within a faculty considers the allegation of fraud to be true, he/she must deliver the material to the dean of the faculty.
If the allegation regards fraudulent practice in a master’s thesis, licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation submitted for examination, the dean is responsible for the investigation. After receiving the statement of the examiners, the dean informs the student that the examination has been interrupted and requests the student to provide a reply to the statement of the examiners.
When investigating a fraud allegation, if there is reason to suspect that a student has used material produced by another student who has knowingly permitted the use of the material, the investigation is expanded to the other student.
The hearing of a student is made by requesting the student to reply in writing or by arranging an oral hearing, or by using both methods. The primary rule is that the student is always asked to provide a written reply to the statement of the supervisor or the examiners regarding the student’s thesis. An oral hearing may be used as the sole form of hearing in other cases of fraud only. However, an oral hearing will not be conducted if it is unreasonable to demand a student to arrive at the hearing because the student resides in another locality and the hearing cannot be arranged through data communications networks.
In a hearing the student is given an opportunity to express his/her view on the matter presented. A solution can be reached without the student’s view if he/she does not submit a written reply in a reasonable time after being notified in advance or does not appear at the oral hearing and has not given a justified and acceptable reason for changing the hearing to another time. The invitation to the oral hearing and the reply request must be delivered to the student in a verifiable way. The student must be informed clearly of the allegation and must be given a chance to get familiar with the material presented as evidence of fraud. The student must be informed that he/she has the right to have counsel present at the hearing.
In addition to the head of the department, it is recommended that another representative of the University, preferably the teacher responsible for the study unit, should also participate in the oral hearing. A report is made of the hearing. The report must indicate if the student admits to or contests to fraud and it must also include other details presented in the hearing. The report should be unanimous, that is, all participants must verify with a signature that the report corresponds to the discussion held at the meeting. If mutual understanding cannot be achieved in all matters, each participant of the hearing is entitled to enter a statement of disagreement in the report.
The Universities Act provides for disciplinary consequences of fraudulent practice. Section 45 of the Universities Act (558/2009) states that if a student breaches the rules of teaching, he/she may, depending on the seriousness of the breach, be cautioned or suspended from the University for a fixed period of one year, at the most. The decision to give a written warning to a student shall be taken by the Rector of the University and the decision on a suspension by the University Board.
The disciplinary provisions of the Universities Act concern only degree students. Thus, these provisions do not concern other persons completing studies at the University, such as Open University students or other students completing separate studies. As a disciplinary action, the dean of a faculty or the director of an independent institute or service department may cancel the study rights of a student guilty of fraud temporarily – for six months, at the most – if the person has no valid right for degree studies at the University of Jyväskylä but has been granted the right to pursue other studies. In such a case, the student’s study right is extended by a period that corresponds to the period for which the study rights were cancelled. If the person has been granted several parallel study rights at the University of Jyväskylä, the disciplinary actions described here are directed only to the study right that encompasses the fraudulent performance.
No other disciplinary actions may be used. If the dean of a faculty or the director of an independent institute or service department considers that the alleged fraudulent practice is, because of its limited extent or other related matters, of such minor significance that no disciplinary actions are presented, he/she shall give the person who has committed the fraud a free-form written admonition that is delivered to the student through the Registry Office of the University. The admonition should state that the student has breached the ethical principles of the University and that the repetition of the fraudulent practice may lead to disciplinary actions. The student is given similar notification if the Rector or the University Board decides that the reported incident of fraud is of such minor significance that it will not lead to any disciplinary actions stated in the Universities Act.
If a University student is found guilty of serious fraud when assessing the matter comprehensively, the dean of the faculty or the director of the independent institute or service department shall inform the Rector, who will decide on possible disciplinary actions. The Rector is always notified when the allegation regards serious fraud in a master’s thesis, licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation, or when any fraudulent practice is repeated. A repetition of fraudulent practice or a partially or fully plagiarised thesis or dissertation is a serious offence that signifies disregard for the central rules set for studies and the University community. In connection with these breaches, it will always be considered if the student should be suspended from the University for a fixed period.
The dean may deem a fraud allegation to be unfounded or return the matter to the department for further clarification if he/she considers that the evidence is not sufficient to prove that fraud has been committed.
Regardless of other consequences, proven fraud always leads a failing grade for a completed examination, course or other assignment. Even if fraudulent practice was noticed in an assignment that constitutes only a part of a course, the student will receive a failing grade for the whole course, unless there is a justified reason to do otherwise. The decision to reject a study unit is made by the head of the department, unless the Faculty Council is responsible for the approval of the study unit. After a study unit is rejected, the student must agree with the teacher how it can be completed.
Fraud also leads to the rejection of a thesis submitted for evaluation. The decision on the rejection of a master’s thesis, licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation is made by the Faculty Council, unless the decision-making power has been delegated to the dean. If fraud related to a doctoral dissertation is noticed during preliminary evaluation, the evaluation becomes void. Before continuing with the dissertation, the student must report to the supervisor how he/she will correct the work so that it will no longer be based on fraudulent practice.
Rejecting a study unit is not a disciplinary action. Rejection means that the fraud has made it impossible to assess the student’s skills as they relate to the study unit. For this reason, it is not possible to reject a completed study unit of a student who has given his/her work to another student knowing that it will be presented as someone else’s work, even though other consequences shall apply as stipulated.
In accordance with Section 36 in the Degree Regulations of the University of Jyväskylä, the student has the right to interrupt the evaluation of a master’s thesis even when a fraud allegation is connected to the thesis. However, the interruption does not free the student from disciplinary consequences.
If the fraudulent practice of a degree student at the University is processed and proved in a unit of the University other than the faculty in which the student is entitled to complete a degree, the decision on the case of fraud shall be submitted for reference to the dean of the student’s faculty. The same practice applies also when the student has parallel rights to complete degrees in several faculties.
A written decision on a disciplinary matter must specify what aspects have influenced the conclusion. The decision must be given to the student in a verifiable way, and the student has the right to request change to the disciplinary decision by appealing to an Administrative Court (hallinto-oikeus). The decision on temporary dismissal of a student may be put into effect regardless of a submitted complaint, unless otherwise stipulated by the University or an Administrative Court.
If a student who has failed a study unit for reasons of fraud disagrees with the decision, he/she may submit a correction request within 14 days from the day the decision is received. A student dissatisfied with the decision to reject a master’s or licentiate thesis or a doctoral dissertation should submit a correction request to the University Degree Committee and a student dissatisfied with the decision to reject any other study unit should make a correction request to the Faculty Degree Committee in question. A student completing studies at an independent institute or service department should submit a correction request to the director of the unit, unless otherwise agreed in the unit’s instructions for processing the requests.
15. Investigations of alleged academic fraud and the invalidation of approval for study units already completed and approved
A fraud investigation may also be started after a study unit has been approved if an allegation emerges at this phase. In some cases, a decision to approve a study unit may be annulled and reissued as a corrective decision in accordance with the Finnish Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003). As a rule, the consent of the student is required for a corrective decision that is to his/her detriment. Even in this case, the correction must not be based on new evidence that may significantly affect the decision (Administrative Procedure Act, Section 50, part of it only in Finnish).
The Administrative Procedure Act gives an opportunity to correct a decision on the approval of a study unit without the student’s consent only when the decision “is clearly based on erroneous or insufficient information” and “if the error is obvious and has arisen from the conduct of that party” (Administrative Procedure Act, Section 50). An initiative to correct a decision shall be made within five years of the date of the decision (Administrative Procedure Act, Section 52). Correction of a material error requires a new consideration of the matter and a new decision that is subject to the regular correction procedure.
If an approval decision cannot be corrected on the basis of the Administrative Procedure Act, an appeal for the annulment of the decision may be made to an Administrative Court (hallinto-oikeus) in compliance with the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act (586/1996), Chapter 11, Section 63.
If a fraud allegation is raised after the approval of the study unit, suitable courses of action must be agreed on with the General Counsel of the University of Jyväskylä before starting a fraud investigation.
16. Entry into force
This decision enters into force on 1 August 2013.
Rector Matti Manninen
Teachers, supervisors (i.e. invigilators/proctors) and other organisers of teaching may prevent fraud, for example, with the following actions:
Head of a unit
- Ensure that you name enough supervisors for an examination room.
- Ensure that the supervisors know their duties. Organiser or supervisor of an examination
- Remind students that it is not allowed to bring notes, electronic reading devices, mobile phones or other communication devices into the examination room. Monitor that students do not have such tools visible in the examination.
- Ensure that students have no bags or outdoor clothing in their immediate vicinity.
- Arrange students in the examination room so that they cannot talk with each other or see others’ test papers.
- Influence the seating arrangement by using an arrangement that is based on students’ last names or one that you have created in advance.
- Take a responsible attitude towards your duty to supervise the examination and do not hesitate to intervene if you suspect fraud. Make your intention clear to the students.
- When necessary, confirm the identity of students participating in the examination.
- Do not assume that students want to follow the ethical principles of the academic community.
- Show that you are interested in your students’ performance and give feedback on it.
- Plan assignments and essays so that there are fewer opportunities to exploit the works of students who have completed the course earlier or to re-use texts from essay banks.
- Plan assignments and essays so that there are fewer opportunities to exploit the work of a student completing the course at the same time, unless you specifically desire that students carry out group work.
- Instruct students if you expect them to complete assignments individually or in groups.
- Ensure that the workload of an assignment or other task is in proportion to the scope of the study unit so that students are not tempted to resort to fraud because of an unexpected workload.
- Ensure that the schedule you have planned for a course and other study units is reasonable and that the schedule is clear to the students right from the start.
- When you teach international students, take into account that the rules of appropriate scientific writing are not the same in all cultures. It may not be sufficient only to inform students about the procedures of the Western scientific community – discuss them with your students more thoroughly.
- Ensure that you know how to avoid fraud.
- Do not talk with your fellow students during an examination.
- Plan your schedules so that you will not be tempted to resort to fraud because you are in a hurry.
- Do not leave your exercises or other texts in a printed form or on an electronic medium in a place where another student could copy them.
When preventing plagiarism, the basic requirement is that the conventions of academic writing are taught to students so well that they can clearly show what parts of their texts belong to others and what is their own contribution. Even though the conventions of scientific writing differ slightly between disciplines, the basic rules are the same for all.
It is essential that the author clearly refers to the written material he/she has used, be the material unpublished or published in a traditional print format or on the Internet. The student must use a clear citation system that clearly indicates to a reader which part of the text has been based on the work of others, what the cited publication or other material is, and at which part of the publication or material the citation is targeted (often page numbers).
If a student uses a direct quote in his/her own text, the quoted part must be put inside quotation marks. The use of quotation marks is often limited to situations in which several words of a text are quoted. However, this is not a comprehensive rule. For example, if a concept developed by someone else is used, the author must clearly indicate who has created the concept. Instead of using quotation marks, an author can make the borrowing of a concept more explicit by directly saying so in the text. This method is illustrated in the following example:
... This development phase can be called the second demographic transition. (Lesthaeghe & van de Kaa, 1986)
... Lesthaeghe and van de Kaa (1986) have named this development phase the second demographic transition.
In the first sentence, it is not clear for the reader if the author has named the development phase “the second demographic transition” based on the cited source – or if the researchers in the citation have created the name. In contrast, the second sentence explicitly states that it is the cited researchers who have named the development phase.
An author’s obligation to indicate quotations is not removed in the case of longer quotations, even if the author has modified the original text. Even if the author replaces individual words with others, removes some words or sentences or changes the word order, in practice it is still a quotation. Only naming the source is not necessarily enough to communicate how substantially the text presented by the author has been taken from the source cited. If the author does not name the source, it is a form of plagiarism that is as severe as if the text had been copied word by word, regardless of any small changes to the original text. If an author compiles a longer text, for example, a full subsection of a thesis from the slightly edited texts of other researchers (or has translated them from another language) without other own input, it will be seriously considered if the author has committed plagiarism – even if he/she has named the sources. Such a consideration will be even more likely if the paragraphs are from one source and they have been presented in the same order as in the source.
If for some reason it is important for the author to refer to certain source material (e.g. a publication) indirectly, using the information of another source, it must be made clear in the reference that the reference is indirect and that the author has not used the cited source him-/herself.
A student can decrease the risk of plagiarism by following some simple rules:
- Avoid excessive hurry caused by poor scheduling. Blaming a busy schedule is no excuse if you are caught.
- Avoid writing exercises, theses or any other texts by cutting and pasting text from the Internet or another electronic source. As you edit text, it may easily become unclear which parts of the text are your own and which are by someone else. However, this explanation is no excuse either if you get caught.
- If you decide to use the cut-and-paste technique nevertheless, it is important to always mark the source in connection with the copied text.
- Be aware that it is equally wrong to copy someone else’s thoughts and ideas as it is to copy their written texts without a clear reference to the source.
- Save the intermediate versions of your texts (different file versions) so that you can see how your work has developed through the intermediate phases to its final shape.
Teachers can prevent and recognise plagiarism as follows:
- Communicate the reprehensibility of plagiarism and explain that it will be taken seriously and that the community is constantly on guard against it.
- Signs of potential plagiarism include rapid changes in the style and manner of representation or texts that seem “too good” in comparison to the student’s phase of studies.
- It is also suspicious if the most recent sources in the text are many years old.
- Use the plagiarism detection software.
- Look for keywords, names and pieces of text from the Internet using search engines.
- Remember that paper publications may also be plagiarised despite the modern search opportunities.
- Check that the most cited sources have been used appropriately.
- If you have supervised a student’s thesis carefully, there is only an infinitesimal chance that the thesis or even a significant part of it would be plagiarised from elsewhere.
Appendix 3 Distribution of responsibilities when processing a suspected fraud case and deciding on consequences
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARTY
Supervisor of examination
After interrupting the student’s examination, the supervisor marks the fraud suspicion and the student’s comment on the test paper and submits a report on his/her observations and a list of possible witnesses to the teacher responsible for the study unit.
Teacher and the thesis supervisor
Teachers and thesis supervisors document all evidence that supports or weakens the fraud allegation and submit the created material to the head of the department or the director of independent institute or service department, or, if the faculty has no departments, to the professor responsible for the subject. They are responsible for ensuring that the student receives information on the allegation by the time the student should be informed of the evaluation results of the study unit. If it is clear that the evidence is not sufficient to prove fraud, they state that the fraud allegation will be dropped and inform the student.
The (preliminary) examiner of a master’s, licentiate or doctoral thesis
An examiner informs the faculty of the fraud allegation. In the time given by the faculty, prepares a statement that presents the evidence of the student’s fraudulent practice.
Head of department, director of independent institute or service department, or professor responsible for the subject
The respective party investigates the fraud allegation and hears possible witnesses and, without exception, the student suspected of fraud. Based on the investigation, the party decides on further actions:
Dean or director of independent institute / service department
The dean or director decides on the consequences of reported academic fraud as follows:
If the matter regards fraud in a master’s or licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation that is submitted for examination, the dean is responsible for investigating the allegation. The dean informs the student that the examination process has been interrupted and requests the student to reply to the statement of the examiners. When a decision on the rejection of the thesis must be made by the Faculty Council, the dean deals with other consequences as described above. The dean always informs these cases of fraud to the Rector. The dean is also responsible for investigating the allegation also in other cases if the teacher who noticed the fraud is the head of a department in the dean’s faculty.
When the evidence of fraud is considered to be sufficient, the Faculty Council decides on the rejection of a study unit under its power of decision.
The Rector decides on possible further actions in a case of fraud reported by a dean or a director of independent institute or service department:
Upon the Rector’s presentation, the University Board decides if there is reason to suspend the student for a fixed period (maximum potential suspension: one year).
Decrease your risk of becoming a target of fraud allegations by displaying a genuine will to develop your skills, showing diligence in your studies and following instructions closely. In addition, if you are even slightly doubtful about what is allowed and what is not, check the limits of acceptable actions with your teacher.
If you become the target of a fraud allegation, remember that teachers and other University personnel follow the instructions of the University and they must take the possibility of fraud seriously. However, they are also instructed to ensure the legal protection of students. Only a verified incident of fraud can lead to any consequences.
An allegation must be clarified without delay, but you should be prepared that the investigation of the matter takes time. Detailed investigation is also important to ensure your legal protection. If a baseless allegation delays the completion of the related study unit, you have the right to expect your teachers to be flexible with the completion schedules (e.g. by arranging an extra examination). Otherwise, you have the right to continue your other studies during the investigation of the allegation.
After your teacher informs you that he/she has requested an investigation to be started because of a suspicion of fraud, the matter is no longer dealt with directly by the teacher.
You always have the right to make a statement of defence on the matter.
- The statement is requested either in writing or at an oral hearing, or in both ways.
- The written request for the statement must specify the allegation and the evidence the allegation is based on.
- When giving your statement, you have the right to be assisted by counsel (also at an oral hearing). It is important to use this opportunity to reply to the allegation against you.
- The matter can be resolved without your statement if you have not delivered it within the specified time or you have not arrived in the hearing.
If a fraud allegation is considered to have basis and a study unit submitted for evaluation is rejected because of it, you have the right to appeal with the decision within 14 days from receiving the decision.
- A correction request related to the rejection of a master’s or licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation is made to the University Degree Committee.
- A correction request related to the rejection of any other study unit is made to the degree committee of the faculty or, in an independent institute or service department, to the director or other body responsible for processing the correction requests.
If disciplinary action is taken against you, that is, the Rector decides to give you a warning or the University Board decides to suspend you for a fixed period, you have the right to appeal the disciplinary decision in an Administrative Court (hallinto-oikeus). A decision to suspend your studies for a fixed period may be put into effect regardless of your appeal, unless otherwise ordered by the University or the Administrative Court (hallinto-oikeus). Non-degree students of the University of Jyväskylä have a corresponding right to appeal if their right to study has been suspended for a fixed period due to fraud.