Plagiarism in Georgian academic world: prevention and fight

10 Aug, 2017

In August 2017 the EU has selected Georgian project on plagiarism as a winner in ERASMUS + Capacity-building in the Field of Higher Education 2017 project (Call in 2016: 585841-EPP-1-2017-1-GE-EPPKA2-CBHE-SP). Funding in the amount of Euro 856, 834 has been recommended for the project that will help twelve Georgian HEIs, the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science and the National Quality Enhancement Center to strengthen academic integrity in the country.

It all started in Spring 2015 with the project Plagiarism in Georgian academic world: prevention and fight funded by the Open Society Georgia Foundation’s Higher Education Support Program and implemented by the Georgian NGO The project aimed at studying the issue of plagiarism in Georgian academic sphere, development of an effective common position as a result of public discussions on the topic, designing prevention and reaction mechanisms against plagiarism, and advocating for relevant changes in sub-legislative acts.

The project was a first attempt to seriously study the problem of plagiarism in Georgia. In the beginning studied the legal framework to understand regulations established at Georgian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) for prevention and reaction to the cases of plagiarism. The relevant international practice and experience was also reviewed, including the experiences of the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Greece and Estonia. The survey of attitudes and perceptions towards plagiarism among the faculty, administrators, and students of the higher education institutions (HEI) in Georgia (about 1500 persons) has been conducted.  The findings of the study were organized around the following four aspects: (a) plagiarism awareness, (b) plagiarism prevention, (c) plagiarism detection techniques, and (d) responses to plagiarism.  The study revealed that although the issue of academic integrity was an important component of official policies of Georgian HEIs,  formal regulations regarding plagiarism defined plagiarism rather narrowly and anti-plagiarism policies and procedures were a mere formality. There was a low awareness of university policies on plagiarism among faculty, administrative staff and students. The findings revealed that one of the main obstacles to combating plagiarism was the lack of repositories of academic works and plagiarism detection instruments/software. The research has been peer reviewed by the international expert and received the positive feedback from external reviewers. 

The findings of the research were used to start a broad discussion on the issue and to design effective actions for combatting plagiarism.  On September 29, 2015 the project presentation for the rectors of the state universities was held in the Ministry of Education and Science. On March 3 and 4, 2016, the seminar on “Prevention of and fight against plagiarism at universities – German case”took place for the representatives of the universities and Georgian academia led by the Professor Mr. Tassilo Schmitt – University of Bremen, Germany. During the 2016 the presentations of the research findings were held at HEIs both in Tbilisi and in the regions.

Sustainability of the funded projects is very important for the Open Society Georgia Foundation. Therefore the Foundation paid particular attention to the implementation of research recommendations and their reflection in state policies and regulations. continued working towards these goals and achieved success: the recommendations have been reflected in new standards of authorization of higher education institutions adopted by the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement in December 2016. With OSGF support translated a publication – “To ensure good scientific practice” and distributed to the HEIs as a guideline for prevention of academic dishonesty

Following the completion of the project together with HEIs continued its work on enhancement of academic integrity and in February 2017 submitted a proposal Academic Integrity for Quality Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Institutions in Georgia (INTEGRITY) to the Erasmus+ programme. The project aims at the implementation of plagiarism prevention mechanisms at Georgian HEIs and purchasing of plagiarism detection programs, retraining of academic personnel and updating the existing courses on academic writing.