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U Manitoba Embraces Research Ethics

A university in Canada is bringing research integrity to the forefront by adopting two applications to help people figure out whether they've borrowed too liberally for their writing, misused data in their research or handled potential conflicts of interest.

Like all other research institutions in the country, the University of Manitoba has adopted a framework for the "responsible conduct of research" in order to remain eligible for Tri-Council funding. The Tri-Council is made up of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. These three agencies fund much of the research going on in post-secondary schools.

To build awareness at U Manitoba and educate researchers and students, the university has purchased an online tutorial about research integrity from the Epigeum Group and made it available through the school's learning management system. It has also licensed iThenticate from iParadigms for plagiarism detection after running a pilot of the service in 2013.

The online course covers such topics as the student-supervisor relationship, ownership of data, plagiarism, copyright and publication ethics.

iThenticate compares written works against database of billions of web pages and 130 million content items (including research behind registration walls) to identify similar or matched content. The service allows authors to identify "unintended duplication or uncited references" in their papers.

The university emphasized in the announcement that the software is intended to be used only by individuals examining their own work. It's not intended to be used by faculty to check student work. However, instructors are empowered to query students about the originality of their work if questions arise.

"The University of Manitoba is committed to innovation in research, teaching and learning," said Vice President Digvir Jayas. "iThenticate provides our faculty, students and staff with the tools to ensure we are reaching and exceeding the highest standards of excellence at our institution."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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