The Four stages of addressing plagiarism
In Finland, The National Advisory Board on Research Ethics published a document "Good scientific practice and procedures for handling misconduct and fraud in science" in 2002. All universities have agreed to follow the exact procedures defined in the document. However, plagiarism within higher education is still a silenced topic, and practically no scientific articles have been published about it in Finland. This article will scrutinise the phenomenon of plagiarism by analysing six plagiarism cases within two universities. The focus is on the time-consuming process of addressing plagiarism in which emotions are expressed strongly both verbally and literally. The analysis is based on ethnographic data that include observation, documents (notifications of suspected plagiarism, decisions by ethical committees), emails written by suspected plagiarists during the process, and written accounts produced by the whistleblowers of all six cases. Narrative thematic analysis is applied to describe the stages of the process. The first three stages of addressing plagiarism are named disbelief, anger and explaining. When a person notices s/he has been plagiarised, when a teacher notices plagiarism in a student's paper or when the suspected plagiarist is informed about the suspicion, they all go through stages of disbelief and anger when confronting the situation. Questioning the authenticity of a document can create a hostile conflict in the whole educational community. Explaining the situation from (every)one's own point of view is the third recognised stage in the process. The fourth stage is dependent on the decision given by authorities or ethical committees: either admission of plagiarism or cover-up/denial of plagiarism.