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Dealing with plagiarism

  • In bachelor’s and master’s dissertations/theses
  • In seminar work, term papers, project work and portfolios as final exams for modules in bachelor’s and master’s study programmes

Plagiarism is the copying of words or entire sections of text from other works into your own work without quoting the corresponding source. Using translations or paraphrasing without quoting the source also constitutes plagiarism. In addition, adopting the structures or ideas of others may represent plagiarism.

According to Art. 16 (10) and Art. 17 (9) of the bachelor’s degree exam regulations (for all subjects except PPE), Art. 15 (9) and Art. 16 (9) of the bachelor’s degree exam regulations for PPE, Art. 16 (9) and Art. 19 (9) of the master’s degree exam regulations (for all subjects except Art Mediation and Cultural Management) and Art. 15 (9) and Art. 17 (9) of the master’s degree exam regulations for Art Mediation and Cultural Management, each piece of work must be submitted with a declaration that it is the student’s own work and that no sources were used other than those stated. 

According to Art. 10 (4) of the exam regulations of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, any attempt to cheat will be graded as a “fail” (5.0). In this regard, it must be noted that intent is a prerequisite for cheating. Consequently, even if phrases are found that match other sources, this does not automatically constitute proof of an intent to cheat. Further factors must also point to an intent to cheat. The scope of the plagiarism usually provides a clue: If there are only a few matches with one source, it is unlikely that there is any intent to cheat. By contrast, numerous matches with a variety of sources are highly unlikely to be inadvertent. The fundamental principle of “innocent until proven guilty” also applies here.

If a member of the teaching staff suspects plagiarism, they should initially inform the responsible examining board, providing reasons for their suspicion and corresponding documentation. The examining board will then decide whether the suspicion justifies an automated check and whether the work should be scanned using plagiarism detection software. If the board decides in favour of a check, the Office of the Dean of Studies will conduct it and inform the examining board of the result. The board will then decide whether a case of plagiarism exists and inform the Registrar’s Office where necessary.

In the event that the examining board determines an intent to cheat, the work will be graded as a “fail”. If the assessors themselves identify an intent to cheat, the following documents must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office together with their report: the thesis/dissertation and a copy of the text that has been plagiarised, including information on its source; the plagiarised text sections should be highlighted in both documents.

The Registrar’s Office will review the facts and, in the event that the work is graded as a “fail due to plagiarism”, it will issue a fine against the author without further warning. This fine usually amounts to approx. €200 – 250 or, in the case of a repeat offence, €450 – 500.

If the case of plagiarism is particularly serious or in the event of a repeat attempt, the student may face de-registration. In such cases, the examination authority will review, with reference to Art. 7 (4g) of the enrolment regulations of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf of 28 February 2007 as amended on 19 August 2020, whether Art. 63 (5) Sentence 6 of the Higher Education Act (Hochschulgesetz) can be applied. This states: “in the event of multiple or other serious attempts to cheat, the candidate may also be de-registered.”

Chairperson of the examining board for bachelor’s major-subject study programmes:

  • Dr. Maren Butte
  • Assistant Professor
  • +49 211 81-13902

  • Building: 23.21
  • Floor/Room: 01.102

Chairperson of the examining board for integrated bachelor’s study programmes:

  • Prof. Dr. Katharina Spalek
  • Professor
  • +49 211 81-15221

  • Building: 23.21
  • Floor/Room: 04.095

Chairperson of the examining board for master’s study programmes:

  • Univ.-Prof. Dr. Andrea von Hülsen-Esch
  • Professor
  • +49 211 81-15214

  • Building: 24.21
  • Floor/Room: 00.83
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