Friday, May 10, 2013

Plagiarism in Kosovo

Deutsche Welle reports on plagiarism in Kosovo. A public protest has demanded that the minister of education, Rame Buja, and the rector of the University of Pristina, Ibrahim Gashi, have their doctoral theses investigated. Rama Buja has said that he is willing to have his thesis investigated.

Critics have grumbled that the University of Pristina is currently producing doctorates at a rather rapid rate. Since the country was founded in 1999 (it was formerly part of Yugoslavia), there have been 416 doctorates granted. But with 40.000 students attending 17 faculties in a country of only 2 million inhabitants the number does not look to be that large. The local media had reported that there were companies that were ghostwriting theses. An investigation was mounted, the ministry of education stated, but the company was only offering technical assistance, according to Deutsche Welle

Students have been complaining that there are too many students taken in (the article states 100.000, Wikipedia has 40.000) and not enough qualified teachers.

Deutsche Welle quotes the minister as stating "We have signed an agreement with the Austrian goverment about digitalizing the dissertations and in connection with this we have ordered a software to fight plagiarism. This will soon be installed so that we can check all the books, diplom theses and doctoral theses." [I blogged yesterday about plagiarism in Austria]

As I have often said (but apparently not everyone has heard it): Software can't find plagiarism. It can indicate copies that have to be hand-checked by teachers who understand how to interpret the findings. There are far too many false positives (plagiarism announced where there is none) and false negatives (not finding plagiarism that is there) for the software to be of general use. Plagiarism is a social problem and we can't solve it by throwing software at the problem. 

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