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Academic honesty policy: the experience of universities in the US


Фото. Мельниченко Анатолій Анатолійович

The Conference of the labor collective NTUU "KPI", which took place on April 9 in addition to the collective agreement, also approved the Code of Honor of the University. The Scientific Secretary NTUU "KPI", Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Law, Anatoly Melnichenko said in the interview about the role played by such documents in foreign universities and why its adoption is important for us,.

- Dear Anatoly Anatolievich, at the invitation of the US Embassy a delegation of Ukrainian universities recently visited a number of American universities. What was the purpose of this trip?

- Indeed, in February of this year I was in the delegation of eight Ukrainian universities, which visited the United States. The program included not only visits to the universities, but also to a number of government agencies. The purpose of the trip was to study the American educational experience in policy of academic honesty. For us, this concept is relatively new, and in American universities, it has become a practice long ago. We studied how the policy of academic honesty is carried out in the preparation of students as well as research. It was envisaged by the program.

- Who initiated this invitation - Ukrainian or the American side? And why is it important for the United States?

- Of course, funding and, to a certain extent, the initiative to organize this trip came from the State Department and the US Embassy in Ukraine. But the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine pariticipated too. Before the trip we were consulted by its staff. They have shown interest this trip in terms of the future use of our knowledge in the work of the National Agency of quality education, which shall be established in accordance with the provisions of the new Law of Ukraine "On Higher Education".

- How can universities were elected to include their representatives in the delegation? What was the main criterion?

- This selection was carried out on a competitive basis. If we talk about the members of the delegation, of course, it was taken into account the age of the candidate for inclusion in its composition. Also, it was necessary to have some experience as a research and teaching, as well as participation in the administration of individual processes. Universities were taken, I think, on a territorial basis, so there were the universities with Western Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine and, of course, from the Central Ukraine. The delegation included the representatives of the Universitis of Kiev, including ours, Ivano-Frankivsk University of Vasyl Stefanik, Ternopil Pedagogical University, Sumy State University, Odessa National University of Mechnikov. The delegation also included representatives from Lugansk University Volodymyr Dahl, who now, in connection with certain events, temporarily working in another university.

- Let's return to academic honesty. What this term is meant?

- I have already mentioned that for us it is a fairly new concept. Academic honesty is a certain set of rules of human behavior in the academic environment. It involves, first of all, moral, and only secondarily - legal components, regulates this behavior during training or research tasks. But sometimes this concept is included in the overall system behavior in the academic environment. The practice of different universities allows to interpret this concept in different ways, and very often a question of academic honesty is reduced to only individual manifestations. Mostly it concerns known to us plagiarism. In general, the academic honesty is a broader concept. This concept usually includes firstly, plagiarism; secondly, fraud, deception (English - cheating), that is to say, the use of illicit technical devices, such as the micro. This is - to attract nominees for exams (and this happens even in the United States). This is - a fake signatures gradebook, or even in some documents. And besides, this is a falsification and fabrication of research results or facts used in the learning process, and the like. This field also includes the so-called rewriting, ie rewriting other people's ideas in your own words and results.

It should be noted that in different universities of US the attitude toward rewriting is different. On one hand, a person has committed some work, do not write off the text and therefore do not formally violated. On the other hand, when it comes to research, the rewriting other people's ideas, the researcher does not make anything of his own - that is, scientific novelty of his work there, and hence the scientific work it can not be considered.

In addition, the additional notes of the authors of the monograph or persons who did not participate in the study and produce a specific result - this is also part of the range of issues within the scope of academic integrity, or, in this case - of academic dishonesty.

Another important aspect of this is the sale and acquisition of scientific or educational work. We are used to and do not pay attention to the ads on the implementation of custom term papers, thesis - to doctoral theses. Using the services of third parties in the preparation of such works, or simply buy them, even if such work is not plagiarism - is also a manifestation of academic dishonesty. After all, if a person just bought a job, regardless of whether it is PhD or PhD or Master's - his qualifications do not match what is written in the diploma.

Here, of course, the responsibility of those who carry out such work is envisaged. On the one hand, it's their business. For example, in the United States, as we have repeatedly told workers at local universities, this problem also exists. And some enterprising people became rich by this wayh, because the intellectual work there is highly appreciated. At the same time, with this problem, they are also trying to fight.

There is another aspect that is worth mentioning. There are two aspects of the problem of academic honesty. First – it is the plagiarism as an offense. This is, in fact, a violation of the rights of the author. It requires a legal responsability, legal, because someone appropriates the property of others – the work or the research results.

But often, when we talk about academic honesty, we're not talking about the legal consequences of such an assignment, but the moral and ethical, that is the condemnation of man resorted to such actions, the condemnation of such behavior as such, that the academic community recognizes shameful. Thus, the second component - the moral and ethical. Although, of course, these things are interrelated. And usually universities in the United States adopt codes of honor, based on moral and ethical rather than legal principles.

- How do you assess in this regard American students?

- There are many procedures sufficiently formalized and institutionalized, so students in the US are within the rules. In some universities, students before each training task write that they undertake to implement it on their own, without using any technical means and not drawing on other people. They have codes of honor and other documents, signing that students agree with the rules. But it is the legal part of the question. Same standards of academic honesty, as I said, are more appealing to the moral and ethical component, that is, inner motivations to behave in an acceptable way.

Given that it has become a part of the academic culture, I would have praised American students in terms of academic honesty. Although still there are such problems in the universities United States as well as in the European ones

- What can you say about the system of sanctions for violations of the rules of academic honesty?

- There are different approaches. The university autonomy is very well implemented. That is, every American university has its own system of sanctions and penalties. If we take as a whole, there are several types of such punishments. If, say, the teacher noticed that a student shows some elements of dishonesty, he can hold a conversation with a student, reminding him of the inadmissibility of such actions.

It may be a complaint in special departments and commissions - similar to our educational department of educational work of the KPI. There are people who work with the database of students. Opposite the name of the student they make a note that this person has already been noticed in violation of the principles of academic honesty. This, of course, not so much punishment as prophylactic event.

Following on a scale of punishments it may be a complaint in the same department, which creates a temporary or permanent committee, which examines the work - essays, term papers, or any other - and proves the presence or the absence of the violations. If such violation is, the student can apply various sanctions including expulsion from the university.

But it may be simply bad assessment of this discipline, and the student will have to take a second course of it. We do not have the practice that a person chooses a course and can pass it again next year. In Ukraine, if the person did not pass the course exams, he should be expelled. And in the US, you can choose some sort of discipline, and if you could not pass the exams, you can go through it again. But by the time this discipline will not be credited to you, despite the fact that the funds paid for it (and different courses are irrelevant).

Furthermore, training may be suspended. That is to say, conditional payments - the student is not expelled from the university, and allow six months to reflect on their behavior outside the university community. If people want to continue their education, it can easily be restored.

There are, of course, purely preventive measures. It may be publishing this kind of information on the university’s website - it is an appeal to the conscience of man.

If this is repeated, the universities, of course, disagree and recurrence of such things lead to a expulsion of students.

As for researchers, then, of course, there are less manifestations of dishonesty among them. But if that happens, it could even result in dismissal from employment or removal from the research project.

- How is appropriate this experience for our universities and, in particular, for our KPI?

- This experience is quite suitable for the Ukrainian universities. I would even say that, perhaps, there is every reason to enter it. While in Ukraine, there are many things that are not even exist in the US. For example, we have a complete database of theses for the degree of candidate and doctoral degrees at the Ukrainian Institute of Scientific-Technical and Economic Information (UkrISTEI) and the National Science Library of Vernadsky, beginning, if I'm not mistaken, since 1994. This is a huge centralized list of all dissertation works. In the United States there is no centralized database of the works for the degree of PhD, ie PhD. Each university has its own database, but overall they do not. This is due to the fact that the awarding of academic degrees in our country is carried out centrally. The awards are specialized scientific advice, and the final decision Examination Board and Minstry of Education and Science, and before it was the WAC - Higher Attestation Commission. Therefore, we have one who will protect, delivers UkrISTEI in electronic media with the text of the dissertation, and Minstry - the library Vernadsky. That is, check out these work for plagiarism is very easy.

On the other hand, appealing to morality, we must recognize that morality for the Ukrainian society is not alien. Moreover, it is known that the Ukrainians are mainly characterized by high morality. Therefore, the adoption of certain rules and definitions of life, is a worthy and unworthy is for the student, teacher or researcher - these are things that we can settle down.

However, in the United States, for example, a cheating is considered unworthy . And we have already mentally preparing retirement or cribs - the norm. There are even teachers who speak directly to students: prepare cribs, because that you are at least familiar with the material. For American students it is impossible to understand such things. And we would not understand if someone would not share his knowledge with his colleague.

But, in general, there are other aspects related to plagiarism, falsification and experience the struggle that we can very well be used in itself.

- How important is it for our university?

- For our university it is important. The fact that, in truth, even in the KPI there were certain violations of certain standards of academic honesty. And the Scientific Council has decided that people who violate them in the first place is, of course, concerns of plagiarism can not study or work in the KPI. September 1, 2014 we were the first in Ukraine, on the implementation of the new Law on Education decided to place all of theses and Ph.D. in Scientific Secretary http://rada.kpi.ua/ service on the Internet portal of the university. Now, everyone who comes to defense, spread on the Internet the full text of his works. This is already implemented in KPI.

If we talk about student work, we are well aware that now there are so many different temptations. They are caused by the rapid development of information and digital technologies. There are huge database of Student works. Therefore, the student often, perhaps without malice, and in order to save their time borrows something from the Internet. And sometimes it is not entirely responsible teacher is ready to accept it. Here the question is dialectical. The teacher should understand their responsibility for the fact that he ranked done something wrong, and student - that if he does not comply with certain learning objectives, a specialist from it will not work.

Therefore, it is important for the KPI, although the KPI is, I would say, a subculture, a separate spirit. The KPI is a part of society, which, unfortunately, is characterized by the fall of morality, and it is in a certain way affects our society. Therefore, I am convinced that the issues of academic integrity, we must deal with. And these issues are now governed by the Code of honor of the University, the delegates of the Conference of the labor collective took April 9th.

"KP", together with TV.KPI.UA

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