A year ago, the Ministry of Education issued an order that all institutions that awarded doctorates between 1990 and 2016 must digitize these papers, put them online and check them for plagiarism. For each work they received around 400 lei. Eight of the largest universities in the country explained to Libertatea what they have managed to do so far. Most have not even completed their scanning process.
All universities in Romania and the Romanian Academy should have a digital library of doctorates and make a check of all theses defended for 26 years, starting in 1990. By an order of the Minister of Education last September, they were to receive a total of 25 million lei for this, i.e. the equivalent of 5 million euros. At the end of the process, they are also required to make a report.
In total, there are more than 77 thousand titles that must pass through anti-plagiarism software and those that raise suspicions must also be analyzed by experts in that field.
Libertatea asked the most important higher education institutions from all over the country for information about the evolution of this process. Eight of them responded, which together gave 25% of the total number of doctors at the national level.
Only the Brașov Technical University has so far managed to scan them and pass some of them through an anti-plagiarism software: just over 500 works. The “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași claims that it has started the checks, but it does not mention for how many theses. “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University from Iași and “Dunărea de Jos” University from Galati have finished the digitization of theses, but not the plagiarism check. However, most institutions have not even finished archiving.
From “a reasonable term of one year” to “the university decides”
The Ministry of Education chose the period to check doctorates obtained between 1990 and 2016, because since then universities began to widely use anti-plagiarism software.
“I ask the universities where all these doctoral theses were defended to, within a reasonable period of time, one year for example, to carry out an analysis of all the doctoral theses defended in these universities. (…) There will be a system through which, for the analysis of each thesis, a reasonable amount will be granted, for example 50 euros, 50-60 euros for each thesis”, said Sorin Cîmpeanu, the Minister of Education, last year.
However, the order did not impose a deadline, as Cîmpeanu wanted, but “it is carried out according to a plan established by each higher education institution.” And the amount allocated for each thesis reached 300-400 lei, depending on the university’s facilities (for example, whether or not they had anti-plagiarism software).
The Technical University of Brașov checked a quarter of theses: 0 plagiarized
Of all the universities that responded to our publication’s request, only the Technical University of Brașov (UTB) has so far managed to pass a quarter of the doctorates issued through the anti-plagiarism software TurnitIn: “Following the checks of 538 theses, until August 18, 2022, it turned out that none of the checked doctoral theses raise suspicions of plagiarism,” the university representatives replied.
In addition to these, almost 1,500 other works that were only on paper in the institution’s archive are in the process of being digitized.
As required by law, UTB also created an administrative structure within the Interdisciplinary Doctoral School for the digitization and verification of theses and also made a strategy to prevent and combat the phenomenon of plagiarism. For the entire process, he received almost 607 thousand lei from the ministry.
University of Bucharest: “Sample checks did not lead to suspicions of plagiarism”
The University of Bucharest (UB) has the largest number of doctorates in the country to verify: almost 8,000, taken in 19 fields. For this he received over 3.1 million lei from the Ministry of Education.
So far, the institution has hired and trained integrity staff working in the newly established Office of Academic Integrity Analysis and Training.
Regarding the analysis of theses, the University of Bucharest explained to Libertatea that the process was a difficult one, because they first had to inventory the works that were only on paper at the faculties’ libraries or at the Central University Library. “In the next period, we will move on to scanning the existing theses only in physical format, at the faculties’ libraries, and where it is technically possible, checking them with an anti-plagiarism software. The spot checks of dozens of theses published at the publishing houses did not lead to suspicions of plagiarism”, was the UB’s response.
After all theses have been scanned, they will be made public in a digital library. That means anyone will be able to analyze and report plagiarism.
Digitization, “in progress”
In the other five institutions, special structures have been set up to deal with the archiving and verification of works, and ethics and deontology strategies have been developed. As for digital archiving, only one managed to complete it. Here is the situation in each:
Academy of Economic Studies (ASE) he also has around 3,500 theses to check and for that he received over 1.4 million lei. Until this moment they have not completed their digitization. “At this moment, the process is ongoing”, the academy answered the Libertatea request.
He mentioned, however, that he established the Office for the Assurance of Academic Ethics and Deontology, which approved “a procedure for verifying compliance with university ethics and deontology in the preparation of doctoral theses.”
“Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest received 1.6 million lei for the almost 4,000 theses issued in 26 years. “The digitization of the doctoral theses is being completed” is the UMF’s response. Afterwards, they will be passed through an anti-plagiarism software and those that raise questions will end up in front of a commission. I don’t give any time horizon.
Western University of Timisoara (UVT) issued 1920 theses in 17 different fields and received over 784 thousand lei for their verification. “The expenses considered do not concern personnel expenses, but cover the costs of full digitization of the archive with doctoral theses, archiving in the cloud, document processing (equipment and specific services)”, mentioned UVT. So far, they have made a special room where they brought all theses from the libraries and archived them and those that did not exist in digital format “are in the process of being scanned and converted to PDF”. All will go through the anti-plagiarism software iThenticate and those that will exceed the 10% similarity threshold will also end up in front of a committee.
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University from Iasi it has over 4,000 theses to analyze, for the electronic archiving and verification of which it received over 1.6 million lei. According to the answer given to Libertatea, these works totaled almost one million pages. “Theses entered into the anti-plagiarism program to date have not indicated a degree of similarity that would lead to the suspicion of plagiarism,” the officials replied, without mentioning how many of the total have gone through this process.
Technical University of Iasi will analyze over 2,300 papers. He received over 900 thousand lei from the ministry for this. Up to this point, all theses have been successfully scanned and archived. They will be passed through the anti-plagiarism software, according to the answer provided by Libertatea.
Lower Danube University from Galati he did not mention how many doctorates he had issued in the 26 years, only that he had completed scanning theses up to this point. “We believe that the steps will be taken in an optimal time,” the university officials answered vaguely.
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Source From: Libertatea