How FUTMINNA ensures Academic Integrity with Turnitin
Professor Oluwole Morenikeji, then Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics at Federal University of Technology Minna, was a runner-up in the 2015 Turnitin Global Innovator Award.
The Global Innovation Awards program recognizes educators and technology administrators from around the world who have demonstrated excellence in promoting academic integrity, student engagement and the innovative use of Turnitin and other educational technologies to support learning in their institutions.
Professor Oluwole Morenikeji, Chairman of the Anti-Plagiarism Committee at Federal University of Technology Minna, has provided us with an insight into his experience of tackling the issue of plagiarism at his institution. His role within the institution enables him to educate and advise the university’s academic community and university management on plagiarism issues, and push for anti-plagiarism policies to be
implemented across all departments and other academic centres in Nigeria.
“With improved access to the internet since the mid-2000s, the culture of copy and paste from online resources has gained ground in Nigeria,” said Prof. Morenikeji. This is a common issue that institutions face on a global level. However, the particular problem they faced in Nigeria surrounded the need for adequate infrastructure, education of university faculty and administrators about how a lack of academic integrity could affect the university, and how they would better be able to support this in their classrooms with adequate tools and a university-wide policy. The challenges FUTMinna encountered in Nigeria are prevalent for many institutions simply ‘Starting Out’.
In order to address the issue of plagiarism at FUTMinna it was important that the university first put in place the basics to do so; to do this they needed to gauge the current position of the university. Following a review they invested in their IT facilities, increasing the number of computers and improving their broadband connection. Following the setup of this basic infrastructure, the next step was to educate the university population on the meaning of academic integrity.
In order to engage the university population in the issue of plagiarism, Prof. Morenikeji
introduced modules specific to academic integrity into taught programmes to educate students on basic citation techniques. As part of a campaign to increase awareness he also circulated a number of high profile stories around the university. These stories included an example of a member of staff from another Nigerian university being dismissed for plagiarism and the withdrawal of Ph.D. certificates from an international president and minister of defense.
To assess the needs of the university community an anti-plagiarism committee was formed in 2011, and together the committee worked to develop an anti-plagiarism policy. This committee and the resulting assessment involved representatives from across the university. “We wanted an institution-wide view of the challenges that key decision makers, administration, faculty and students faced whilst maintaining academic integrity.” This approach helped FUTMinna ensure consistency and fairness across all departments.
To further empower their student population the university also utilised student volunteers to digitise over 30,000 projects and theses, which was necessary for the successful implementation of Turnitin as part of the newly formed policy.
Once the plagiarism committee was set up at the university (which included key
decision makers, faculty, and students) they all agreed on the policy that the institution
should enforce. The university ensured that the policy was clearly defined and that all
parties understood the terms. It was also important for the policy to clearly define how
Turnitin would be used within the institution’s guidelines; for example all
post-graduate projects had to be submitted with an originality report.
FUTMinna have been using Turnitin since 2011 and it is the only recognised plagiarism detection software used at the university, with over 7,500 reports generated since implementation .
Morenikeji notes, “The product’s other key features, such as GradeMark and PeerMark, as well as an obvious focus on continued development, will ensure that Turnitin remains FUTMinna’s anti-plagiarism software for a long time to come.”
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