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“Academic Integrity and Plagiarism” discussion in Kyiv-Mohyla academy

On November 23 at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy students and activists took part in a discussion on academic integrity and the fight against plagiarism. The event was organized by the Anti-Corruption Research and Education Center, with the support of the New Justice Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The discussion was attended by representatives of the academic community and students’ self-government bodies of the School of Law of Washington and Lee, as well as leading higher educational institutions of Kyiv.

Oksana Nesterenko, executive director of ACREC, opened the discussion with a welcome speech. In it, she underlined the importance of discussing issues of academic integrity and borrowing international experience in the field of prevention of plagiarism in order to improve existing practices in Ukraine. She substantiated her position that despite the actualization of issues of academic integrity in expert circles, Ukraine still has a rather low level of academic culture, and plagiarism is still considered as a rational option in the context of obtaining education and conducting scientific activities – among Ukrainian students , as well as domestic professors and graduates of scientific degrees.

The first to share his practices in the field of adherence to the rules of academic integrity was decided by the chairman of the American Library Svetlana Chukanova. In particular, she spoke about the participation of the Scientific and American Libraries of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in developing the course “Introduction to Mohyla Studies”. Svetlana noted that within this course there are special modules devoted to information literacy and academic integrity, and the course is mandatory for all students of NaUKMA.

It was also noted that the American Library is constantly accepting requests for academic integrity actions from scholars, librarians and students from other educational institutions of Kyiv and contributes to the promotion of academic culture and the dissemination of standards of integrity in the field of education.

It is equally important to mention that within the framework of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy there was developed a unique online course “Academic Integrity at the University”, in which Mohyla Academy scholars share their experience and learn to prevent plagiarism. It is precisely the observance of the rules of academic integrity that is a key aspect of the NaUKMA development strategy, and the corresponding Mogylian Regulation on the Prevention of Plagiarism was adopted in Ukraine in 2009.

Continuing the discussion, Thomas H. Speedy Rice, a professor at the Law School of Washington and Lee (Lexington, Virginia), visited the event with his students and student self-government members. In their speech, representatives of the American University discussed a story of the official document on academic integrity at the Washington-Lee Law School, entitled “White Book”.

It is interesting that in the School of Law, students themselves reserve the right to bring fellow students to account for violating the rules of academic integrity. According to the professor, it is precisely the fact that students at the School of Law of Washington and Lee have significant powers in “administering justice” for violating the rules of integrity, which leads to an increase in the sense of responsibility for their actions and promotes honest and decent behavior among students.

In addition to those symbolic practices, there are certain formal norms and procedures for observance of standards of integrity in the School of Law. For example, the implementation of the “Honor Systems” of the White Book is the responsibility of the Executive Committee, which consists entirely of students and retains exclusive jurisdiction over all issues related to academic integrity. In the event of a plagiarism or any controversial issue of compliance with the rules of the White Book, special hearings are held that may be open or closed. Different types of violations (such as incorrect citation, etc.) are punishable under the existing system of sanctions. At the same time, if there is definitive proof of student’s plagiarism, one punishment applies – expulsion from the university.

The student of the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kiev Polytechnic Institute” Oleksandr Rak, an active member of “Studwatch Ukraine”, delivered a speech. He highlighted the fact that the issue of integrity in Ukraine is directly related to the quality of education. In this context, Alexander noted that one of the main problems of Ukrainian universities is the lack of both external control of the quality of education and internal. In turn, plagiarism is always beneficial to those who are not interested in education. He believes that measures can be taken to increase student motivation, introduce competition among teachers, and introduce more rigorous monitoring and accountability systems within each university in the country.

Representatives of the Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics Elvin Shakhbazov and Jana Vashko joined the discussion. They spoke on the review of their own project, namely, the plan for the creation of a special student committee that would be responsible for maintaining academic integrity. The project caused a lively discussion and received positive feedback from colleagues from other Ukrainian universities.

An American professor also expressed profound interest in Ukrainian practices in the field of academic integrity. Thomas Rice recommends reading the section on academic integrity in the White Paper to exchange useful practices that are used in the United States.

It should be noted that the book was translated into Ukrainian with the assistance of USAID’s New Justice Program and is freely accessible to all interested persons. You can download the White Book at the link: http://catcut.net/ldpx

The professor also advised to join the Education for Justice Platform and improve his academic integrity knowledge by having a modular online tutorial entitled Honesty, Inclusiveness and Ethics, which is in the Higher Education section at https: // www. .unodc.org/e4j/

The event was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Justice Reform Program “New Justice”.