The NTU establishes new rules to combat plagiarism

Students would have to sign a declaration that their theses meet academic standards and that they agree to any potential legal liability

National Taiwan University (NTU) on Friday passed a motion requiring students enrolled in graduate or doctoral programs to sign a plagiarism statement stating that their theses meet ethical standards and are original, amid a series of incidents, in which politicians were accused of academic plagiarism before the local elections on November 26.

The application to change its regulations on the aptitude tests for master’s and doctoral courses was accepted in an internal administrative meeting.

The university administration has decided that all students who have passed their mandatory thesis defense must sign a plagiarism statement certifying the integrity and originality of their work and submit the results of the plagiarism detection software on the document before they can graduate.

Photo: Yang Mien-chieh, Taipei Times

The statement states that no forgery, forgery, plagiarism or ghostwriting was involved in the preparation of the thesis and that the student assumes all legal liability if the statement is found to be false.

The passage of the motion formalized a practice adopted by NTU’s leadership after an academic ethics committee at the school found that Lin Chih-chien (林智堅), the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) mayoral candidate from Taoyuan, was his Thesis had plagiarized at the NTU Graduate Institute for National Development.

After the announcement, the university revoked Lin’s diploma and degree, leading to his resignation from the mayor’s office.

He was replaced by DPP MP Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) as the party’s candidate.

Since then, further allegations of academic plagiarism have been leveled against candidates and members of other parties, mostly through media reports or by DPP members.

The meeting also approved an amendment requiring the university’s academics office to report any thesis found to be in serious breach of academic integrity to Human Resources, which would then have to hold the faculty members serving as thesis supervisors accountable.

Asked by reporters yesterday what would constitute a “serious violation,” Academic Affairs Bureau head Ding Shih-torng (丁詩同) cited cases of student titles being revoked as an example yesterday.

However, no penalties would be imposed on the consultant if, for example, a thesis was found to contain only a small paragraph copied from other published material, which is considered a minor breach of ethics rules, he said.

At Friday’s meeting, the university leadership also passed a motion stating that the award of a diploma to a student in a part-time graduate program must carry wording that distinguishes it from a diploma in a full-time graduate program.

The university administration said it was necessary to make such a distinction because graduates from part-time programs often show better job skills than those who attended full-time programs.

So far, only 13 of the university’s 25 extra-occupational courses distinguish the diplomas.

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