MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) – About 10 percent of all doctoral theses on history that have been defended in Russia since 2000 borrow about 70 percent of their text from other dissertations, according to a new study reported Wednesday.
Russia was rocked by a massive scandal earlier this year over reports of dozens of allegedly plagiarized dissertations in humanities, most of them by state officials. Eleven history PhD holders were stripped of the title, and Russian children’s ombudsman Pavel Astakhov and several federal lawmakers had to fight plagiarism allegations.
The scandal has prompted the Russian State Library – which gets copies of every dissertation defended in Russia – to launch an extensive examination of 14,500 relatively recent history dissertations on its shelves.
About 1,500 of them contained upward of 70 percent borrowed text, library head Alexander Visly told RIA Novosti.
Though most authors quote their own earlier writings or works by other researchers in their dissertations, this level of borrowing means “these are bad works, with a very high degree of probability,” he said.
The real situation is likely even worse because the study was limited to checking whether the dissertations drew text from other dissertations, Visly said.
“The amount of plagiarizing would have been much higher if we had also used other texts, such as monographs, articles, books for comparison,” Visly said.
He did not name any postgrads implicated in the scandal, but he said results of the check were forwarded to relevant state agencies. Not all plagiarists would face penalties, however, because the statute of limitations on revoking a doctoral status in Russia is three years.
Smaller-scale checks were also performed regarding dissertations on other subjects, Visly said. Theses on economics appeared to have as many problems as ones on history, but research in hard sciences was less plagued by plagiarism, he said.
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