What is cheating and plagiarism?

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

Good scientific and academic practice is an essential requirement in all university studies. Credits must be earned honestly, with the student accurately demonstrating his or her knowledge. All types of cheating and plagiarism are forbidden.

Cheating refers to dishonest conduct that goes against good scientific and academic practice. A person who engages in cheating acts contrary to the generally accepted scientific and academic practices either intentionally, for the purpose of deception or through negligence (due to ignorance or indifference).

Plagiarism refers to the unauthorised use of someone else’s work (text, chart, software code, picture, etc.) as your own. In addition to the unauthorised use of someone else’s work and presenting it as your own, plagiarism can also take the form of self-plagiarism.

Types of cheating

Cheating includes, among other things, the following types of conduct:

  • Fabrication (presenting fabricated observations or facts).
  • Misrepresentation (intentionally altering or presenting original findings or information in a distorted way).
  • Stealing (unauthorised presentation of a confidentially presented original idea, plan or observation, or the use of these as one’s own).
  • Cheating in examinations (using forbidden methods or study aids in a context such as an examination, or attempting to do so).
  • Falsifying attendance records (giving a false representation of one’s own attendance, or another person’s attendance, in a course).
  • Forbidden cooperation (e.g. jointly completing an assignment intended as an independent exercise or using a “ghost writer”).
  • Plagiarism (presenting someone else’s work, or part thereof, as your own).

The consequences of suspected cheating

  • If an instructor suspects cheating, he or she must request an explanation from the student.
  • If their discussion clears up the suspicion, the instructor will advise the student on the correct practices and take any deficiencies in the student’s work into account in grading.
  • If the suspicion is not cleared up, the instructor will report it to the head of the study programme or the study coordinator, who will request a statement from the student and arrange a hearing.
  • The student is allowed to bring a support person, such as a fellow member of the Student Union, to the hearing.
  • If the student admits to cheating or the suspicion is otherwise substantiated, the student receives a failing grade for the course.
  • The minutes of the hearing are forwarded to the Dean.
  • The Dean may, upon his or her discretion, refer the matter to the Rector.
  • The Rector may, upon his or her discretion, issue a warning or refer the matter to the Board.
  • In serious cases or in the case of recurring misconduct in spite of a warning, the Board may suspend the student for a fixed period of time (at most one year).

Types of plagiarism

Plagiarism includes, among other things, the following types of conduct:

  • Using someone else’s text as one’s own by omitting the author entirely.
  • Using someone else’s text as one’s own by making minor changes to the text (also known as “servile imitation”, for example, by changing a few words or slightly altering the word order).
  • Exact quotations that include the source information but 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 “servile imitation”).
  • Self-plagiarism, or presenting one’s own prior work as a new work for another assignment without indicating that the work in question has already been submitted elsewhere.

Detecting plagiarism

The University of Helsinki uses the Ouriginal plagiarism detection system. Ouriginal is used to determine whether texts are original.

More information and instructions on detecting plagiarism can be found in Instructions for students on the page Plagiarism detection and using Ouriginal.

More information and instructions on scientific writing can be found on the page Scientific writing and academic writing skills.