Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity

Table of Contents

Using Turnitin similarity check (or originality check) is regulated by Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity viewable in Into.

It describes rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, typical forms of plagiarism and how to handle suspicions of plagiarism and possible consequences of plagiarism.

Rights and responsibilities

As a studentAs a teacher
  • You are expected to familiarise the principals of good scientific practice
  • You are always responsible for the work you produce, even if the Turnitin originality check report shows no similarities
  • Ignorance is not an excuse when information about the code of academic integrity is available
  • You may not refuse the use of Turnitin similarity check if you wish to receive a grade
  • Upon request, you must submit your work in an electronic format
  • Inform students about using Turnitin
  • All students receive equal treatment within the same course (all submit into Turnitin submission box)
  • Always interpret the similarities in the similarity report. Do not just look at the overall similarity percentage
  • Show the the similarity Check report to the student at least if requested
  • If you check student’s paper on his/her behalf, do not save the paper into the Turnitin student papers comparison database without student’s consent
  • You can not lower the grade because of plagiarism, but always either
    • report the suspicion of plagiarism to the investigator or
    • let the student correct minor violations or misunderstandings and resubmit the assignment.
  • All students receive equal treatment within the same course
  • Your consent is required if your submission is saved into the Turnitin student papers comparison database. Submissions saved in the comparison database are protected against plagiarism
  • You may request your paper to be removed from the comparison database
  • You may check any of your works independently
  • You have the right to hear the teacher’s interpretation of the similarity report
  • You have a right to request the similarity report
  • You will be heard in the case of plagiarism being suspected
  • Allow students the possibility to practice with Turnitin before grading (this is highly recommended!)
  • During grading you may submit students' papers into Turnitin on their behalf, but you can not save submissions into the comparison database without their consent. This can be done also for a single paper if plagiarism is suspected, but this is not desirable. Instead, it is better that papers are submitted into Turnitin by students themselves, in which case the principle "all students receive equal treatment" is fulfilled easily
  • You may consult the investigator in any case of plagiarism suspicion

Typical forms of plagiarism

Here are some common forms of plagiarism in a nutshell (read the whole description in the chapter 3, Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity):

  • Autoplagiarism
  • Quotations or word-for-word citing without clear indication
  • Minor changes to the source text
  • Inadequate citing or referencing
  • Copy-pasting from an online source
  • Direct translation without quotations
  • Collusion – co-workers are not mentioned or peers’ work is included in an assignment that should have been produced independently

Sometimes the division between plagiarism and bad academic writing is not black and white, but grey. What can be considered as minor changes? How long can the quotation be? What if a reference is found in the reference list, but the citation is missing or vice versa? The starting point is, that everything has to be written in own words, but of course, concepts and terms of the field have to be used. See some writing tips in the chapter Writing is a skill.

Procedure of Handling and Consequences of plagiarism

The procedure in case of suspicion of plagiarism and possible consequences are described in full detail in the Chapter 4 of Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity

Plagiarism suspected during supervising

If plagiarism is suspected during supervising, teacher can asisst the student without implications.

However, if the student has been remiss about the academic integrity again during the thesis writing process or a course, teacher can contact the investigator even before the grading phase.

Plagiarism suspected during grading

The process of handling suspicions of plagiarism is condensed in a flow chart picture.

The same points are also presented in a PowerPoint presentation (as pdf-file)

Picture. Procedure of handling suspected plagiarism as a flow chart. Click the picture to maximize it.

If plagiarism is suspected during grading, teacher interprets if the violation seems to be 

a) unclear, when he/she asks the student an explanation either in writing or orally. If the explanation is

      • a "minor negligence or misunderstanding, the teacher guides the student on correct working methods" and asks student a resubmission.
      • not convincing, she/he passes the plagiarism suspicion to the investigator for handling. Teacher gives investigator a pdf version of a Turnitin similarity report (see number 4 in the overview of Feedback Studio to get a pdf version of the report ) and an interpretation of it as an argument

Note: suspicions of plagiarism can not be handled by lowering the grade. Nor can teacher fail the work her/himself before the case has been passed to the investigator and "a misconduct has been verified by the dean or the university president or board". The aim is to educate students avoiding plagiarism.

b) strongly suspected

      • the teacher informs the student about suspicion of plagiarism. It is good, if the teacher goes through the similarity report with the student before contacting the investigator. The Teacher passes the case to the investigator of the school for handling. Teacher gives investigator the Turnitin similarity report and interpretation of it as an argument
      • the student is interviewed during the handling process
      • possible results of the handling are the following:
        • the case is not considered as misconduct or it is considered a minor one, and teacher is advised how to evaluate the assignment/thesis
        • the case is considered as misconduct and the student gets caution and/or the fixed-term suspension. The teacher is advised to fail the assignment/thesis because of a misconduct.

A teacher can consult the investigator, if it is difficult to decide what kind of violation it is here. 

Investigators and decision makers

Heads of student affairs/learning services (or Head of Academic Affairs) work as investigators. Their contact information (people.aalto.fi, log in with your Aalto account to get contact information):

Investigator leads an investigation process, but a decision of violation handling process is made by a dean or a president depending on how severe the case is or what is the level of studies concerned.