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Checking theses for plagiarism

To ensure that no plagiarism occurs in doctoral and licentiate theses, Karolinska Institutet (KI) runs systematic plagiarism checks of all theses (in Swedish; ramberättelser). Once a thesis has been electronically “nailed” in KI’s e-publication system KI Open Archive, it is checked using the iThenticate plagiarism detection tool. The iThenticate report is then sent to the Examination Board coordinator as a supporting document in its review of the thesis.

Plagiarism check of the thesis

The university library sends the iThenticate report as well as information regarding iThenticate and how to interpret the report and so on to the coordinator of the Examination Board by email.

If there are grounds to suspect that a doctoral student has made an attempt at deception in connection with their examination by, for example, plagiarising text in their thesis, the Examination Board is required to report the matter promptly to the President of KI.

What else can a thesis check with iThenticate show you?

A thesis check using the iThenticate plagiarism detection tool shows also copying from the students’ own constituent papers. The KI’s guidelines for writing the thesis state that “The summary chapter should be weighted towards a reflective discussion and contextualisation of the student’s own research results” and “The text of the summary chapter must be the student’s own original work without the extensive reproduction of extracts from the constituent papers.” A thesis check with iThenticate can also give some indication of how good the doctoral student is at scientific writing.

Access to the iThenticate plagiarism detection tool

It is useful for doctoral students and their supervisors to run the drafts of the half-time summary or thesis through iThenticate in the interests of quality control and learning.

Supervisors and doctoral students at KI can access iThenticate for pre-review of the half-time summary or thesis by logging in with their KI-login at

Urkund is another automatic text-recognition system. Urkund is used at KI for plagiarism check of assignments in connection with examination. Unlike Urkund, iThenticate does not save what users upload in the database. iThenticate's database is also significantly larger than Urkund's, and much better suited for plagiarism check of scientific work.

Instructions on how to use iThenticate can be found here: Advice: Exclude the reference list and set an exclusion threshold to exclude matches of less than ten words.

Other preventive work to avoid plagiarism

To avoid plagiarism, the doctoral students must learn correct scientific writing and referencing praxis as well as good long-term and short-time planning. To help students in this, KI has purchased an online course called Avoiding Plagiarism. Read more about how to log in and take the course.

Attending a course in scientific writing and especially constructive feed-back from the supervisor on written work are also very important for the learning of correct scientific writing.

Funds for arranging thesis (in Swedish; ramberättelse/”kappa”) writing seminars may be applied for from the Course and Programme Committee