The Ministry of Education and Science with the help of Microsoft, is working on a comprehensive database of academic dissertations and scholarly articles to prevent plagiarism and promote higher levels of academic integrity in Ukrainian universities.
Kyiv, July 26, 2016. Ukraine will have a unified database of all scientific papers and articles – National Repository of Academic Texts (hereinafter – Repository), which will allow new works to be checked for plagiarism. The Cabinet supported this proposal of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on Friday. “By early September, we expect to work out a test version and start downloading dissertations that are available online,” said Inna Sovsun, First Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Texts of dissertations from all universities and research institutions, including the National Academy of Sciences, which were defended after the Law “On higher education” entered into force (September 2014), will be downloaded to the Repository. These works will be stored in the public domain. Those defended earlier, will be used technically to compare and search for plagiarism, but will not be open. Verification of a new work with the database will be mandatory to defend a dissertation. “Very often people plagiarize scientific research articles; so, the next task is to download texts from scientific journals. However, the level of access to them may vary depending on the journal’s rules. In the future, we would like to download student works too,” noted Inna Sovsun. She reminded that currently there are enough programs that allow for such verification and universities are already required to publish all dissertations on their websites. However, the problem is that even the published works are “scattered” on various universities’ websites.
Microsoft is developing the software for Repository. The database will be created on the basis of Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. “This ‘cloud’ provides extensive computing power. Currently, no data center in Ukraine has such capabilities. This platform can be used by all companies involved in checking for plagiarism,” said Nadia Vasylieva, Microsoft Ukraine General Manager. They will also launch an additional program called SharePoint Online. “This is a platform that will allow quick communication with each other, while staying in different regions of Ukraine, or even outside of Ukraine,” she detailed. This platform will be tied to social networks. “That is, you can simultaneously communicate, edit documents, and connect with a wide range of people,” explained Nadia Vasylieva. Cyber Defense system will meet international standards, and the level of system reliability is 99.9%.
The cost of the entire project is 180 thousand hryvnias. After the base is launched, the government will pay 20 thousand hryvnias monthly. This sum will cover only the costs of technical maintenance. As for the universities themselves, they as well as academic institutions that are connected to Office 365 will have free access. There are also plans to conduct training for system administrators and users.
Inna Sovsun noted that the recent opinion polls revealed that 90% of students resorted to plagiarism, in one form or another, sometimes – unintentionally. “Some people believe that if they copy somebody’s text and rephrase it, or in case of translation from a foreign language, it should not be considered plagiarism,” she explained. According to Volodymyr Bugrov, pro-rector on research & pedagogic activity at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, very deep problems in the education system may be responsible for this situation. “It is extremely rare that tasks for independent work are formulated in such a way that just a retelling of the textbook is impossible. […] Ukraine needs a coherent system of shaping academic culture and combating plagiarism,” he noted.
Inna Sovsun noted that currently there are several projects aimed at reviewing the rules of scientific work and developing academic integrity. One of them has been prepared jointly with the American Councils with the support of the US Embassy. It will be launched on September 1. “This is a pilot project, which involves 10 universities. From the 1st year of study, students will regularly attend trainings and seminars on how to write, cite, and follow all the rules of academic integrity,” said the First Deputy Minister of Education and Science. In some departments, trainings will be conducted for teachers on how to educate students in academic integrity. Additionally, a guide for students has been published in Kharkiv. “By the start of the new school year, we will spread this text widely, because it explains in detail what plagiarism is and how to write texts properly,” explained Inna Sovsun. In addition, a similar course will appear on the online platform Prometheus. “Since the University is a partner of Prometheus, we will ask Ivan Pryimachenko to develop such a course,” said Volodymyr Bugrov.