Plagiarism in Russia: Top Funny Incidents

Plagiarism is a huge problem in modern Russian universities. While the particular problem was not even an issue in the times of Soviet Union known for its upraised standards of higher education, current situation with plagiarism in Russia has a drastic nature. The evolution of the internet and the availability of an access to unlimited content procreated a serious problem. The other side of the coin is weak legislative basement. Only few Russian universities have real policies that prohibit Russian students from using copy-pasted contend without proper attribution to the original source of information. Namely, the Moscow State University, the Saint Petersburg State University and several other institutions have implemented the effective policies that allow detecting plagiarism incidents and penalizing Russian students who were engaged in text duplication. The rest of the Russian academic world seems to be not interested in dealing with plagiarism incidents. Moreover, who is to blame, when the key governors of the state are the main actors of the funny cases with plagiarism?

The group of Russian activists who try to popularize the originality of content called Dissernet revealed the results of their study examining unauthorized content in Russian dissertations. According to their findings, only four out of five dissertations were plagiarism-free. In other words, approximately 20% of the theses defended by Russian academics contained borrowed information without proper reference. However, this snapshot depicts the situation with plagiarism in PhD or Candidate dissertations. At the same time, the situation in students’ works is even more terrifying. Most sociologic pools show that almost a half of the course works, term papers and research papers submitted by Russian students are plagiarized. Thus, the situation with the student plagiarism is even more severe. The reasons for this may include:

  • The lack of convenient system for plagiarism detection. Most Russian universities are not modernized and do not have access to online plagiarism-detecting softwares. Thus, teachers have to contribute the substantial amount of their time to checking students’ papers for originality.

  • The lack of proper legislative burdens that should define the term ‘plagiarism’ correctly and impose the relevant punishment based on the intensity of the plagiarism instances.

So, what are the top funny plagiarism incidents in Russia?

The first and foremost telling case is the Candidate of Science dissertation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin was accused of plagiarizing the text without proper citations from the article of American researchers from Pittsburg University W. King and D. Cleland. Clifford Gaddy argues that the 20-page introduction of the Putin’s work contains 16 pages of borrowed text. Putin ignored the accusation and never gave any comments regarding the issue. Far more, recently he initiated the campaign to cope with plagiarism issue in Russian academic sphere stating that the counterfeit dissertation theses defended in Russian universities had burst through all limits. However, are there any rational limits for text duplication in PhD works at all? The funniest thing is that the Russia’s President, who is already accused of plagiarism, is trying to set the limits instead of eradicating the issue entirely.

Among other funny cases with plagiarism is the story of the Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky. Vladimir Medinsky, the former Russian deputy, was charged for using borrowed text in his dissertation abstract. Of course, the politician denied the accuse arguing that the text that matched with the other source was a common knowledge, which obviously was not the case. On the top of this, in spite of the accusation, Vladimir Medinsky was appointed as a Minister of Culture the same year.

Another interesting incident with plagiarism happened to Andrei Andriyanov, who applied for a position of a scientific department director of the Moscow State University. The thesis paper of the candidate was reviewed and questioned by the group of anti-plagiarism activists. The attention to his thesis was drawn by the fact that Andriyanov, who had his degree in Chemistry, defended his Dissertation thesis in History as a student of Moscow State Pedagogic University. Further, the activists have checked the dissertations of other academics that also defended their works at the same institution and found out about a number of bogus works. Therefore, Anrei Andriyanov was not the only one counterfeit academic of the institution, who became a kind of an “academic title-shop”. As a result of the scandal with Andriyanov, Moscow State Pedagogic University has lost its dissertation council. Andriyanov was fired from the position of the direction. Nevertheless, he soon was appointed as a vice-president of youth sport organization.

Therefore, the funny cases with plagiarism in Russian education are just the examples of ill-considered policies and standards in education. On the other hand, when one digs deeper, the funny cases turn to be a terrifying problem of the entire political system. All three cases mentioned share the common feature of impunity. The corrupted attitude that goes from the top of the state finds reflection in all spheres, including education and universities. Moreover, the system tries to hide the real problems, like the legislative prerequisites behind the counterfeit war with the forfeit content.