One of the main objectives of UGC’s anti-plagiarism regulations is to create awareness about responsible conduct of research in promotion of academic integrity and prevent misconduct.

The human resource development ministry has signed off on the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) rules regarding plagiarism, which say that student researchers who are guilty of plagiarism could lose their registration and teachers, their jobs, and will likely notify these on Monday, according to a senior official.

The move is part of the ministry’s effort to improve the quality of education and research in universities and institutes of higher learning; it recently made PhDs mandatory for teaching at the university level starting 2021. The plagiarism regulation will ensure that research is free of plagiarism, which is rampant in Indian universities.

The commission had earlier approved the UGC (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Education Institutions), Regulations, 2018. The regulations cover not only fresh research work being submitted but also recommend penalties for cases where the degrees/credits have already been granted. In such cases the degree will be kept in abeyance for a period as decided by the competent authority.

This year, PhD, MPhil and Masters students are also likely to study responsible conduct of research and publication ethics as a compulsory course work or module.

“One of the main objectives of UGC’s anti-plagiarism regulations is to create awareness about responsible conduct of research in promotion of academic integrity and prevent misconduct which includes plagiarism in academic writing,” said the senior HRD ministry official who asked not to be identified.

According to the regulations, every higher educational institution is mandated to generate awareness about responsible conduct of research, promote academic integrity and prevent plagiarism.

They will have to conduct sensitization seminars focusing on cardinal principles of academic integrity. Every institute will also train students/faculty and researchers for using plagiarism detection and reference management tools. There are several software that do these.

The rules for students is that in non-core areas, plagiarism of up to 10% would not invite any penalty while that of between 10% and 40% would entail the submission of a revised research paper within six months.

In case the similarities between the submitted work and previously published work are between 40% and 60%, students will be debarred from submitting a revised paper for one year. A student’s registration for a programme will be cancelled if the similarities are above 60%.

Teachers whose academic and research papers have similarities ranging from 10% to 40% with other papers will be asked to withdraw the manuscript. In case the similarities are between 40% and 60%, they will not be allowed to supervise new Masters/MPhil/PhD students for two years and will also be denied the right to one annual increment. In case of repeat plagiarism (of over 60% ), the faculty members will be suspended, even dismissed.

“The Central government has taken strong steps to keep a check on practices of plagiarism in Ph.D research,” said HRD minister Prakash Javadekar.

India has been witness to several plagiarism charges against central university vice-chancellors and teachers in the past few years. Pondicherry University V-C Chandra Krishnamurthy quit in 2016 after a prolonged stand-off with the HRD ministry, following allegations that she plagiarized large parts of a book mentioned in her resume. The most celebrated case is that of BS Rajput, the VC of Kuamon University, who was a serial plagiarist; eventually, seven Stanford University professors wrote to then President APJ Abdul Kalam about him.

As part of the new regulations, all institutions will have to notify an Institutional Academic Integrity Panel (IAIP) and all departments, a departmental academic integrity panel (DAIP).