Perspectives in Clinical Research

: 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 100--101

Preventing plagiarism in higher educational institutes of India

Natasha Das 
 Freelance Medical Writer, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Natasha Das
Freelance Medical Writer, C-18, Dronacharya Apartment, Mayur Vihar Extension, New Delhi - 110 091

How to cite this article:
Das N. Preventing plagiarism in higher educational institutes of India.Perspect Clin Res 2019;10:100-101

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Das N. Preventing plagiarism in higher educational institutes of India. Perspect Clin Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 7 ];10:100-101
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

With reference to my report on the draft anti-plagiarism policy by India's University Grants Commission (UGC),[1] Joob and Wiwanitkit [2] mentioned that unintentional plagiarism seems “unreasonable” with the availability of plagiarism detection tools and “no degree of plagiarism should be set as a tolerable level.” They also raise concerns about the differing penalties planned for students and faculty.

Any kind of plagiarism is unethical or at least, an act of negligence; yet, the intent in all cases may not be to cheat. Experienced peer reviewers can fathom the true intent in most cases. Authors need to remember this before presenting the excuse of unintentional plagiarism.

Unintentional plagiarism, however, is real. Reasons may be a lack of awareness or an inability to paraphrase and reference properly.[3] In science, the originality of the content is more important than the author or the wordings.[4] Academic writing and associated ethics are seldom taught as part of the medical curriculum. Though most doctors allege that the overwhelming clinical burden and lack of time prevent them from being involved in research and publications, the more likely reason is the lack of guidance from seniors who themselves are not too experienced in research publication.[5]

Most journal editors agree that plagiarism is a form of research misconduct, tools can be used to catch offenders, and that action should be taken against plagiarists; however, there is no clear consensus about how much of text similarity is “plagiarism.”[6]

The US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) labels “substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work” as plagiarism without quantifying how much is “substantial.”[7] Its plagiarism policy says, “ORI generally does not pursue the limited use of identical or nearly-identical phrases which describe a commonly-used methodology or previous research because ORI does not consider such use as substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.”

Some journal editors agree that no more than 5% of text similarity is acceptable,[8] while others put a manuscript under scrutiny only when a plagiarism detection software reports text similarity of >20%–25%.[9] UGC considers text similarity [10] but has a zero tolerance policy against plagiarism in the core content.[1],[10] This includes “abstract, summary, hypothesis, observations, results, conclusions, and recommendations.” Any amount of plagiarism in these areas will attract maximum penalty.

UGC's draft regulations had separate “penalties for students” and “penalties for faculty, staff, researcher.”[11] The 2018 regulations ensure the same penalty for everyone for the same level of plagiarism.[10] It now has sections for “Penalties in case of plagiarism in submission of thesis and dissertations” and “Penalties in case of plagiarism in academic and research publications.”

I listed the draft UGC regulations among the references but should have made this clear beyond doubts to readers in the report also.[1] UGC has now revised the draft and published its regulations against plagiarism.[10]

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Das N. Intentional or unintentional, it is never alright to plagiarize: A note on how Indian universities are advised to handle plagiarism. Perspect Clin Res 2018;9:56-7.
2Joob B, Wiwanitkit V. Plagiarism: Either intentional or unintentional, it is still plagiarism! Perspect Clin Res 2018;9:151.
3Hosseini MJ, Bazargani R, Latiff L, Hanachi P, Hassan ST, Othman M, et al. Medical researchers in non-English countries and concerns about unintentional plagiarism. J Med Ethics Hist Med 2009;2:14.
4Habibzadeh F, Shashok K. Plagiarism in scientific writing: Words or ideas? Croat Med J 2011;52:576-7.
5Ray S, Shah I, Nundy S. The research output from Indian medical institutions between 2005 and 2014. Curr Med Res Pract 2016;6:49-58.
6Roig M. Encouraging editorial flexibility in cases of textual reuse. J Korean Med Sci 2017;32:557-60.
7The Office of Research Integrity. ORI Policy on Plagiarism. Available from: [Last accessed on 2018 Sep 03].
8Peh WC, Arokiasamy J. Plagiarism: A joint statement from the Singapore medical journal and the medical journal of Malaysia. Singapore Med J 2008;49:965-6.
9Swaan PW. Publication ethics – a guide for submitting manuscripts to pharmaceutical research. Pharm Res 2010;27:1757-8.
10Jain R. University Grants Commission (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2018. The Gazette of India: Extraordinary; 2018. Available from: [Last accessed on 2018 Aug 31].
11Thakur P. Public Notice No. F.1-18/2010(CPP-II). University Grants Commission, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India; 2017. Available from:,-2017.pdf. [Last accessed on 2018 Sep 17].