A diagram with "PROBLEM" and "SOLUTION"

For centuries is plagiarism our companion

Plagiarism: a timeless phenomenon

Plagiarism is a timeless phenomenon – it existed in the past, exists today and will exist in the future. “Plagiarism, the act of taking another’s work and passing it off as your own, has almost certainly been with us since the dawn of artwork and written language. For as long as there has been art and artists, there have been people who have put their name to it incorrectly.”[1]

Plagiarism is not the privilege of developed or less developed countries, neither small nor large, it is an epidemic that knows no boundaries. The vision of obtaining the degree is able to wrestle moral and ethical barriers for politically and publicly active people too.

Plagiarism and technology

Technology always helps plagiarists and, on the other hand, contributes to progress in plagiarism detection. The massive use of information and communication technology and Internet resulted in – among other things – faster spreading of plagiarism. And this has affected universities in particular.

The detection of plagiarism by means of information and communication technologies has a relatively long tradition – since the 1970s. Firstly, there was work to detect plagiarism in program source codes, and then to detect plagiarism in text documents. In 1997, the first commercial product was launched to detect plagiarism. The product was successful, and it has already achieved international recognition in the next year.

Convergence of technologies like artificial intelligence / machine learning / deep learning to maturity opens new possibilities to improve plagiarism detection processes. Taking into account advanced technologies and algorithms the challenge to redefine plagiarism detection requirements is standing before us as an important task.

Plagiarism Policies

Plagiarism is a “serious disease” that has to be treated on a family level, school level, national level and the European level too. There is no plagiarism policy concerning higher education on the EU level.

The existence of the European higher education plagiarism policy could significantly contribute to the fight against plagiarism and could be one of the mainstays. Initiatives like open science, open data, open access can support the Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations and Pan-European Plagiarism Detection. The other necessary and important factors could help significantly: bottom-up and top-down will, clearly defined needs and a regulatory framework.

Original proposal: Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations and Pan-European Plagiarism Detection

The vision

Open access to all EU theses and dissertation from one website could benefit the academic, research, scientific and business community.

The initiatives Open Science, Open Data and Open Access could be a fertile ground for the unborn Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations. Who or what could be the trigger for these two initiatives? The best trigger would be if the member states and the European Commission too would identify this need. The value of the Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations project would be higher if it would be followed up by the Pan-European Plagiarism Detection project. These two projects should be closely linked.

What could transform the present situation into the operation of the Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations and Pan-European Plagiarism Detection? Concerted and tenacious actions by the higher education sector across all EU Member States towards the European Commission. The legislation on the EU level could speed up the whole process markedly. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations and Pan-European Plagiarism Detection have the real potential:

  • to contribute to knowledge dissemination (all theses and dissertation from all EU member states will be accessible for the academic community and the public from one place);
  • to raise awareness of plagiarism in an unprecedented way.

Other pan-European benefits (based on Slovak experience with a nationwide central repository of theses and dissertations and a nationwide plagiarism detection system) could include: increased responsibility of students and teachers, greater student autonomy in the creation of papers, improvement in the quality of papers, a higher level of citations, contributions to improvements in education, better understanding and application of academic ethics, academic integrity, copyright and intellectual property rights.

This is just the first step – zero iteration – the idea proposal. The question is whether it will generate the interest of universities and the interest of the EC. We consider the interest of the EC to be highly relevant, because both legislative and financial support would make implementation smoother and shorter. Without such a support, implementation would be much more complicated and lengthy. The legislative and financial support of EC could be the tool that will bring all European Higher Education Institutes to active participation on both projects.

Slovak example

In Slovakia, we have 8 years of experience with the operation of a nationwide central repository of theses and dissertations and a nationwide plagiarism detection system. In April 2010, the SK ANTIPLAG system (a central repository of theses and dissertations, a plagiarism detection system, a comparative corpus, local repositories of theses and dissertations) started routine operation after a preparatory phase. The use of SK ANTIPLAG is mandatory for all Slovak higher education institutions operating under the Slovak legal order. It is an example of an unparalleled and unprecedented implementation of such a system on a national level that has no predecessor, it is a unique implementation worldwide.

The implementation of the SK ANTIPLAG system significantly raised awareness of plagiarism among students: “The responses from Slovak students demonstrated the highest level of understanding about plagiarism within the whole Europe.” (Plagiarism Policies in Slovakia, 2013). It is written in the report of international project Impact of Policies for Plagiarism in Higher Education Accross Europe (IPHEAE). More information about SK ANTIPLAG can be found in the conference paper SK ANTIPLAG is bearing fruit.

How to continue on European level?

Open access to all EU theses and dissertation from one website could benefit the academic, research, scientific and business community.

The initiatives Open Science, Open Data and Open Access could be a fertile ground for the unborn Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations. Who or what could be the trigger for the Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations and Pan-European Plagiarism Detection initiatives? The best trigger would be if the member states and the European Commission too would identify this need. The value of the Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations project would be higher if it would be followed up by the Pan-European Plagiarism Detection project. These two projects should be closely linked.

The following materials were used at article creation: SK ANTIPLAG is bearing fruit, Pan-European Repository of Theses and Dissertations and Pan-European Plagiarism Detection, Plagiátorstvo v dizertáciách a vedeckých publikáciách, A kde je ten najzaujímavejší ukazovateľ týkajúci sa plagiátorstva?, A new quality of plagiarism detection in sight.

Július Kravjar

Július Kravjar works at Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information. He is member of the board of European Network for Academic Integrity.

Featured image credit: CC-BY-SA 3.0 by Ryan Jay Crisostomo

[1] Bailey, J. (2011). The World’s First “Plagiarism” Case

EuroScientist is looking for contributors!

If you would like to write guest posts in EuroScientist magazine, send us your suggestions of articles at office@euroscientist.com.


Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “For centuries is plagiarism our companion”