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“Sandra Borch was unduly leniently judged”

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“Sandra Borch was unduly leniently judged”

Sandra Borch was judged unduly lenient, after many irregularities and at least two cases of plagiarism, writes Karl Øyvind Jordell.

I have previously commented on Kjerkol’s master’s thesis in detail, on Forskerforum.

Karl Øyvind Jordell has been extensively involved in cheating cases.

UiT’s decision on Borch’s assignment is now available; as expected it was cancelled. But it is the mildest punishment – as explained in the post about Kjerkol, an Agder student for whom I have been a proxy has received additional punishment in the form of exclusion for two semesters for what appears to be trifles, seen in relation to Borch’s case.

For students and staff at universities and colleges, and for the general public, it is important to get clarity on whether Borch has plagiarized, or simply been inaccurate with references.

30 percent text similarity

E24 wrote on 20 January that Borch had copied from six student assignments, with a total scope of 21.9 percent of the scope of her own assignment. About two of these, E24 writes, in an article originally published on 19 January: “They are not given as sources in Borch’s thesis, neither in the text, footnotes nor in the reference list. Spelling errors in one of the identical passages are also included in Borch’s task.” Here, then, there seems to be plagiarism.

On 20 January, Aftenposten states that Borch has also copied 1,400 out of 17,000 words from the report Supervisory strategy and HSE regulations in the Norwegian Petroleum industry. This amounts to a further 8.2 per cent, so that the total extent of text similarity is 30 per cent.

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Aftenposten refers to five cases of text similarity with the report. Regarding the last two, it is said without reservation that the report is not credited, but this seems strange, since it is credited elsewhere. The fact that it is not credited on these two points therefore presumably means that no references have been given on the pages where these two sections are reproduced. Whether this is plagiarism or not can therefore be debated.

But in any case, there seem to be at least two cases of plagiarism.

Borch should clarify himself

UiT probably does not have the opportunity to comment on this, without agreement with Borch. But such an agreement should be entered into, or Borch should clarify this himself.

Overall, the extent of text similarity is very large, and there is plagiarism. Then it is of the greatest interest to know how UiT reasons that Borch has received the mildest punishment, cancellation, and has not been banned from supervising a new master’s thesis for one year on the basis of at least 11 irregularities, including plagiarism, i.e. far more than the Agder student, who had 2-3, and no cases of plagiarism. It is stated that 10 years have passed since Borch submitted his master’s thesis. But this does not seem to give authority for giving a reduced sentence. As things now stand, she will immediately be able to receive guidance on a new master’s thesis.

It is a deep irony that Borch got the Storting to extend the maximum penalty to ban for two years. But she hardly had her own case in mind.

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