What is cheating and plagiarism?

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Academic integrity must be upheld in all university studies, along with good research practice. Students must conduct their work with integrity and honesty to provide an accurate reflection of their skills. All cheating, plagiarism and other academic misconduct is prohibited.

Misconduct means breaching good research practice and academic integrity through dishonesty. A person who cheats in their research or studies violates accepted practices and procedures either intentionally in order to mislead or through carelessness (ignorance or negligence).

Plagiarism means illicitly presenting another’s work, such as a text, graph, program code or image, as one’s own. Self-plagiarism also falls into this category.

Forms of misconduct

Misconduct includes the following:

  • Fabrication: presenting fabricated observations or facts, referring to non-existent sources or literature
  • Falsification (misrepresentation): Modifying and presenting original observations deliberately so that the results based on those observations are distorted, or referring to existing sources and literature in a way that does not correspond to their content
  • Misappropriation: Unlawfully presenting or using another person’s idea, plan or observations as one’s own
  • Cheating: Using or attempting to use prohibited means or aids, for example, in an examination
  • Falsifying attendance: Giving a false representation of one’s own or another’s attendance in a course
  • Forbidden cooperation: Jointly completing an assignment intended as independent work or employing a ‘ghost writer’
  • Plagiarism (unacknowledged borrowing): Representing another person’s research plan, manuscript, article or other text wholly or partly as one’s own without appropriate references

If misconduct is suspected

  • If a teacher suspects misconduct, they will ask the student for an explanation.
  • If the discussion indicates there is no reason to suspect misconduct, the teacher will inform the student of the appropriate academic guidelines and consider the problems in the text when grading the assignment.
  • If the discussion does not dispel the teacher’s doubts, the teacher will report the suspected misconduct to the director of the degree programme or to an education planning officer, who will ask the student for an explanation and arrange a hearing.
  • The student may request that a support person from the Student Union, for example, attend the hearing.
  • If the student admits to misconduct or the misconduct is otherwise considered to be sufficiently substantiated, the student will be deemed to have failed the entire study attainment.
  • The minutes of the hearing will be sent to the dean for inspection.
  • The matter may be forwarded to the rector at the dean’s discretion.
  • The rector may issue a warning or forward the matter to the University Board.
  • In serious cases or cases where the student continues to perpetrate academic misconduct despite warnings, the Board may suspend the student for up to a year.

Forms of plagiarism

Plagiarism includes the following:

  • Using someone else’s text as one’s own by not acknowledging the original author
  • Providing quotes or verbatim citations with no indication that such text is a direct quotation, i.e., quotation marks or source references are missing
  • Using another’s text as one’s own by insignificantly changing the original text (also known as close imitation, which entails, for example, changing a few words or slightly altering the word order)
  • Using verbatim quotations that include the source information but give no indication that the text is a direct quotation rather than a reference (the ‘copy-paste’ method).
  • Using an insignificantly altered text with source information (the ‘copy-paste’ method combined with close imitation)
  • Presenting one’s own prior work as new work for another assignment without indicating that such work has already been submitted elsewhere (self-plagiarism)

Recognising plagiarism

The University of Helsinki uses the Ouriginal plagiarism recognition system to verify authorship.

Further information and instructions on recognising plagiarism can be found on the Instructions for Students website under ‘Plagiarism detection and using Ouriginal’.

Further information and instructions on good academic writing can be found under ‘Scientific writing and academic writing skills’.

How to avoid plagiarism

  • Indicate quotations clearly. Use quotation marks for short citations (under three lines) and indentation for paragraphs; cite sources for both.
  • Also indicate any indirect quotation or paraphrasing of someone else’s ideas. Be honest. Do not pass off another person’s ideas as your own.
  • Superficial alterations, such as changing the order of sentences or using a synonym, are not enough to avoid plagiarism.
  • You need not provide a reference to commonly known facts, but it may be tricky to decide what is considered such ‘general knowledge’. If in doubt, provide a citation.