Plagiarism, albeit not taken seriously in Nepal, is an act of intellectual theft. Merriam Webster defines plagiarism as an act of copying another’s work or borrowing someone else’s original ideas. Sadly enough, it has become one of the most common means for most of us to get our works done.
Bhanu Bhakta Acharya in his rather controversial article “copy and paste” published in My Republica on 13th Jan, 2016 says, “..Kedar Nath Ghimire, blacklisted by the University Grant Commission (UGC) for plagiarism, was appointed as a member of the TU Service commission. Also, half a dozen professors have been proven plagiarists by UGC. Despite an abundant media campaign and activities to shame these officials in public, they remain intact in their nominated positions. As a result, nearly 4 lakh students of TU, the future writers, artists, professionals, teachers are guided by proven plagiarists”. This article depicted an image of how plagiarism was considered just another mischief, back in 2016 which still continues to be the case.
For whatever reasons, plagiarism is quite prevalent in Nepalese academic field, to say the least. Copying from the internet, mosaic plagiarism (copying bits and pieces from numerous sources), “borrowing” words from a favorite song or a book, or writing off your own ideas from previously published work (self-plagiarism) etc. is just another normal activity in Nepal, which clearly shows that mostly people are unintentional about the theft they’re engaged in. If it’s available in the public domain, it is okay for us to copy, right? Doesn’t this fall under common knowledge? These are the common grounds of excuse that people pull when questioned for plagiarism. Adding to the shame, the cases of teachers turning in their student’s work as their own research paper is quite rampant in Nepal.
Section 27 of the guiding legislation i.e. Copyright Act, 2059 has spelled out the penalty provision for an offence constituting the breach of copyright, which seems to be the only explicit retributive legislation against plagiarism. The section provisions a fine of Rs 10,000 (Ten Thousand) to Rs 100,000 (One Lakh) or imprisonment for 6 months or both for the first-time offender. For the commission of such offence more than once, the legislation provides the penalty of Rs 20,000 (Twenty Thousand) to Rs 200,000 (Two Lakhs) or imprisonment for 1 year or both.
In its Revised Guidelines for Research, University Grants Commission lists plagiarism as an act of research misconduct, defining plagiarism as an appropriation of another’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit. It also mentions that UGC will take actions against any research misconduct. However, the nature and gravity of punishment is not discussed thereunder.
Having said this, most of these cases of plagiarism can be avoided simply by citing the sources. The key is to acknowledge that the copied material was copied or borrowed. As construed by Plagiarism Org., providing the readers with the information necessary to find that source is usually enough to prevent plagiarism.