Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity
The use of Turnitin similarity check (or originality check) is regulated by the document Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity. It describes the rights and responsibilities of both students and teachers, typical forms of plagiarism, and how suspicion of plagiarism is handled along with the possible consequences of plagiarism. Here is a summary of the guidelines concerning the use of Turnitin. The details are in the document.
Rights and responsibilities
As a student
As a teacher
Typical forms of plagiarism
Here are some common forms of plagiarism in a nutshell (read the complete description in section 3 of the Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity):
- Autoplagiarism or self-plagiarism
- Quotations or borrowing text word-for-word without a clear indication of this being done
- Minor changes to the source text, like using synonyms for few words or changing word order
- Inadequate citing or referencing
- Copy-pasting text from a source
- A direct translation of a source without indicating quotation and proper citation
- Collusion – co-workers are not mentioned, or peers’ work is included in an assignment that should have been produced independently
Sometimes the distinction between plagiarism and bad academic writing is not black-and-white, but grey. What can be considered minor changes? How long can quotations be? What if a reference is found in the reference list, but the citation is missing or vice versa? The premise is that the text must be written in one's own words, but naturally, definitions, concepts and terms in the field must be used. The page Writing is a skill gives some writing tips.
Process for handling suspicion of plagiarism and its possible consequences
The process in case of suspicion of plagiarism and its possible consequences are described in full in section 4 of the Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity. The description below is a summary of the most important parts.
Plagiarism suspected during the writing process
If plagiarism is suspected during the instruction (draft) phase of the writing process, for example when writing the thesis, the teacher can instruct the student to make the necessary changes without consequences.
However, if the student repeatedly ignores instructions involving academic integrity during the thesis writing process or in coursework, the teacher may contact the investigator [of violations] already before the grading phase.
Plagiarism suspected during grading
The process of handling suspicions of plagiarism is summarised in the flow chart in Figure 1.
The same process is also presented in a PowerPoint presentation (as pdf-file)
Figure 1. Procedure for handling suspected plagiarism. Click on the figure to maximise it.
If plagiarism is suspected during grading, the teacher determines whether the violation is
a) unclear, in which case they ask the student for an explanation either in writing or orally. If the explanation
- reinforces the notion of the case being one of minor negligence or misunderstanding, the teacher guides the student on correct working practices and asks the student to resubmit their work after correcting the deficiencies found.
- is not convincing, the teacher passes the case of plagiarism suspicion to be handled by the investigator of violations. The teacher provides the investigator with the Turnitin similarity report (see item 4 of the overview figure of the report for instructions to get a pdf) and their interpretation of the report to support their suspicion.
Note: Suspicion of plagiarism cannot be resolved by lowering the grade. Nor can the teacher fail the work before the investigator has handled the case and the investigation concludes that misconduct has occurred. The goal is to educate students to avoid plagiarism.
b) strongly suspected, in which case the following procedure is followed.
- The teacher informs the student about the suspicion. A good and recommended practice is that the teacher goes through the similarity report with the student before contacting the investigator.
- The teacher then passes the case on to the investigator of the school for handling. The teacher provides the investigator with the Turnitin similarity report (see item 4 of the overview figure of the report for instructions to get a pdf) and their interpretation of the report to support their suspicion.
- The student is interviewed during the handling process.
- The teacher receives the result of the investigation, which is one of the following:
- The case is not considered to be misconduct, or it is considered a minor one. The teacher is advised on how to evaluate the assignment/thesis.
- The case is considered to be misconduct, and the student is cautioned and/or punished with a fixed-term suspension. The teacher is advised to fail the assignment/thesis based on the occurred misconduct.
The teacher can always consult the investigator when deciding the kind of action to take in case of suspected plagiarism.
Investigators and decision-makers
The Manager of Academic Affairs of the corresponding Aalto University school is the investigator in cases of suspected plagiarism. The names and contact details of the managers of all the schools are here. Cases at the Mikkeli campus are handled by the Manager of Academic Operations. These details are repeated here for your convenience (log in with your Aalto credentials to get their contact details at people.aalto.fi):
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture: Iiris Kauppila
- School of Chemical Technology: Anni Rintala
- School of Business, Helsinki: Pia Lahti
- School of Business, BScBA, Mikkeli: Mari Syväoja
- School of Electrical Engineering: Perttu Puska
- School of Engineering: Mirka Jalonen
- School of Science: Mari Knuuttila
The investigator leads the investigation process, and they may consult or include other members of the Aalto University staff to help with the investigation. The final decision about the result of the inquiry is made by the Dean of the school or the President, depending on the severity of the violation or the level of studies concerned.