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University in Bangladesh establishes scale to assess and punish plagiarism

Dhaka University is the largest and oldest public higher education institution in Bangladesh, with 32,000 students and 1,600 professors. In January, it presented a new policy for preventing plagiarism that imposes progressive penalties depending on the volume of copied, uncited text included in academic papers by professors and students.

The policy states that if less than 20% of a manuscript is plagiarized, the offense is not punished. If 20% to 40% of the text is stolen, the author has to pay a fine and rewrite the paper within a maximum of six months. In cases where 40% to 60% is plagiarized, the response is more severe. For professors, faculty, or researchers who have obtained employment or promotions based on plagiarized scientific articles, dissertations, or theses, the author has to return any salary they have unduly received to the government. Plagiarism of more than 61% results in a two-year suspension or revocation of the offender’s qualification.

Last August, the university started using software to detect similarities in students’ work in response to a scandal involving Abul Kalam Lutful Kabir, a professor from its Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, who plagiarized 98% of his doctoral thesis. His PhD was revoked and his promotion from assistant to associate professor canceled.

According to pro-vice chancellor Maksud Kamal, the proposal will be open to feedback and will then be refined. “There has been an initial discussion regarding all these policies. Another two weeks has been given to the policymakers,” he said, according to the Dhaka Tribune.