Genius Olympiad winner disqualified by organisers for blatant plagiarism

July 11, 2023 - 17:26
A Vietnamese student who won a bronze medal in the 2023 Genius Olympiad in June had his accolades rescinded after organisers found a blatant 86 per cent similarity between his submission and that of another student.
Uy's submission, with parts marked in red now confirmed by organisers to be plagiarised from Chi's work. — Photo courtesy of Mai Chi

HCM CITY — A fraudulent case in a students' competition that rocked social media in Việt Nam in the past week ended with a result that would make many say "Justice has been served".

A Vietnamese student who won a bronze medal in the 2023 Genius Olympiad in June had his accolades rescinded after organisers found a blatant 86 per cent similarity between his submission and that of another student's, according to an official email from Genius Olympiad sent to participants.

This comes after Lý Khánh Mai Chi, a 15-year-old student, posted allegations of another student named Nguyễn Quốc Uy for copying her submission to the Genius Olympiad.

Mai Chi's Facebook post garnered 14,000 shares after four days and sparked conversations across social media.

In her post, Mai Chi said that she participated in the 2023 Genius Olympiad in two categories, music and creative writing. After the first round, her supervisor, Nguyễn Minh Trung, a teacher at Gia Định High School, told Chi that she only passed in the music category.

Chi later checked back on the website, and saw a submission with a title similar to hers, and with the name "Chi Ly". Chi reported to Trung, who answered that it was another submission from a different school that he had no knowledge about.

"It was not until I went to the US that I found out about a creative writing poster from a Vietnamese contestant named Nguyễn Quốc Uy, which had the same content as my "flunked" submission," said Chi in her Facebook post.

According to Chi, Uy had the same submission number as her, 2190. Uy is also studying at Gia Định High School, where Trung is working.

"When Uy came up to get his medal, I broke down. My eyes were full of tears but I could not cry, I was speechless," Chi wrote in her post.

Chi checked and saw that her name was replaced with "Uy Nguyen Quoc" in the second round. Her family reached out to Uy, hoping for an apology, but got nothing.

Having felt unfairly treated, Chi sent emails to the organisers of the Genius Olympiad and publicised details to social media and the press on July 6.

After a week of back-and-forth across the press between both sides, with Trung and Uy's mother denying any wrongdoing, the case ended on Monday midnight with an official statement sent through email from the organisers of the 2023 Genius Olympiad, which was posted by Chi on social media.

The email was also forwarded by Chi to Tuổi Trẻ Newspaper, which confirmed its authenticity.

In the statement, the organisers confirmed that "A recent project submitted for the Genius Olympiad has been found to contain a high level of similarity to an original submission by another student. Both students were supervised by the same teacher."

"After conducting a thorough investigation, we have determined that the student's work in question has three to four sentences which are exactly the same as the original work and has a further three to four sentences very similar with words rearranged. In addition, a text comparison tool identified that the fraudulent work has an 86 per cent similarity with the original," said the organisers.

According to the statement, the organisers have revoked the award associated with the fraudulent submission and rescinded the student's recognition and any related accolades.

Regarding the supervising teacher, the statement also said: "Furthermore, we have also taken action against the teacher who oversaw the project's submission as the account supervisor."

"The supervisor will not be able to submit any projects for the upcoming 2024 Genius Olympiad," said the official body.

"Moving forward, we will be reviewing and strengthening our submission procedures to minimize the possibility of fraud... In future years, we will block certain updates in the project accounts once they become a finalist while allowing students to update their projects to prevent such activity from happening," added the organisers.

In her post, Mai Chi also thanked the public and the press who stood by and defended her during the past week.

"I want to end the story here," said the 15-year-old, "I and my family were so stressed and tired during the past few days, but got the greatest encouragement from everyone."

Chi also asked the public to end attacks on Uy. "He's still young, and perhaps this is not something he can control. Please give him a chance to change, because I believe that after this Uy has learned a lot."

The 15-year-old student also denied further interviews from the press, stating that she and her family just want to go back to their normal lives. — VNS