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Towards Consistency and Transparency in Academic Integrity

Edited By Salim Razı, Irene Glendinning and Tomáš Foltýnek

This book is an outcome of the 4th International Conference «Plagiarism across Europe and Beyond» organized by Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Mendel University in Brno, and the European Network for Academic Integrity. The conference is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships Programme of the European Union. It aims to be a forum for sharing best practices and experiences by addressing issues of academic integrity from a wide-scope global perspective. With regards to the crucial role of ethics and honesty in academic work, universities are in need of more effective policies against infringements of academic standards. The papers in this book therefore aim to contribute to the standardization of consistent and transparent approaches to issues of academic integrity from several perspectives.

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Plagiarism in Kosovo and its Perception in Kosovo and Albania Society (Dukagjin Leka / Bajram Kosumi)

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Dukagjin Leka1 & Bajram Kosumi2

University “Kadri Zeka” Gjilan, Kosovo

Plagiarism in Kosovo and its Perception in Kosovo and Albania Society

Abstract: Plagiarism as a phenomenon existed earlier but had been very difficult to detect given the limited ability of people to travel and the lack of opportunities for people to make use of technology that did not exist several decades ago. In this article on plagiarism, with different examples from Albania, EU countries and especially Kosovo, we will present the impact of travel and technology from three aspects. The first aspect is that we will argue that technology and freedom of movement have enabled various cases of plagiarism in Kosovo to be uncovered, finding even many translated books, which were presented as their own work by the authors. The second aspect focuses on technology, which has also enabled the possibility of plagiarism to grow, with sophisticated ways of plagiarizing, even by opening companies that deal with writing various works, which in most cases are plagiarised, but which also violate work ethics or study ethics at universities. The third aspect examines how technology has enabled the possibility of detecting plagiarism, by enabling the creation and use of various and sophisticated methods and programs which reveal plagiarism. This paper will present the perception of plagiarism in the society of Kosovo and Albania, where not much has been done to fight plagiarism or to discourage plagiarism from growing.

Keywords: internet, Kosovo, perception phenomena, plagiarism, technology

Introduction

When talking about plagiarism, we focus mostly on the plagiarism in our country and society, but dealing with plagiarism is not a matter of one country or one society, it is a matter of the world in general – one word covers it all. In this regard, referring to plagiarism today means that it is no longer possible to talk about a phenomenon that has gripped a city, country or region; it is a phenomenon that has overwhelmed the entire world, not excluding universities or eminent scholars. This explosion of plagiarism on all sides and in all spheres is primarily due to the rapid development of information technology; in particular the internet and its by-products such as web sites, digital search machines, and mobile phones. This ← 43 | 44 → explosion of plagiarism has also grown rapidly through the movement of people where those who had the opportunity to travel also gained opportunities to plagiarise – a fact that is more real for Kosovo and Albania, which until recently were under Socialist and Communist regimes.

All people work and they create goods, and fortunately most people do it in the most honest way possible. For any work that people do, sometimes it is not necessary or they are not required to respect certain rules; but when it comes to scientific work especially, there are rules and those rules must be respected. For this reason, due to the established rules of scientific work, today many countries including Kosovo have adopted laws3 on copyright protection (“Government of Kosovo”, 2011) which are intended to protect copyright and at the same time to combat what is not original work but is borrowed by someone without reference, which nowadays is known as plagiarism. This phenomenon has gripped a large part of global society, but this issue is becoming more and more complicated when it comes to student seminars, assignments, scientific work, bachelor degrees, master theses, doctoral theses and also, in some cases, professor’s books as well.

Before we start getting into the topic of plagiarism in Kosovo, we would like to explain briefly, what plagiarism means. There are different definitions of plagiarism, but we will mention only some, and one of these definitions can be found in the Albanian Language Dictionary, which defines plagiarism in great detail:

The presentation by someone of the work or part of a work of another as if it was its own work; literary theft, musical theft, etc. done by taking part of someone else’s work without showing the source; the work or part of the work that is stolen from another person in this way. (Fjalori i Gjuhës së Sotme Shqipe, 1980, p. 1496)

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives this definition about a person who plagiarises “to copy another person’s ideas, words or work and pretend that they are your own” (Hornby, 2000, p. 962). On the other hand, another source defines plagiarism as “an action or an example of using or imitating the language and opinions of another author without the authorization and representation of the work of this author as a personal job, without creditation of the original author” (Dictionary.com, n.d.). The Cambridge international dictionary of English defines the word plagiarise as “to use another person’s idea or a part of their work and pretend that it is your own” (1995, p. 1074). A shorter term for plagiarist is given in Rogets’s Thesaurus “One who illicitly reproduces the artistic work, for example ← 44 | 45 → of another” (2003, p. 736). In another definition, Dr. Masic defines plagiarism as “every work, in which there is a part of it that is not original by the author and that is borrowed, but without mentioning the source, makes us understand that we are dealing with plagiarism” (Masic, 2012, pp. 208–213).

From these definitions, we can see that plagiarism is a phenomenon which is very clearly described. People commit plagiarism, not because they do not know about this issue, but because they choose the shorter way of doing things, even when writing articles, which can be seen in open sources and be found, therefore plagiarism is very easy. In this way we can see that plagiarism is using someone’s work and presenting it as your own work, but always without reference to that.

Plagiarism in Different Societies and the Use of Technology

Although there are many definitions and discussions on the topic, plagiarism today is one of the phenomena that have gripped all societies in the world, but within these has gripped people from the academic world most of all. Every day, more and more, we hear of new cases from one side of the world to the other about plagiarism. And all this, as a result of the technology conceived at the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the 21st century, has reached an extraordinary level of development that has enabled plagiarism to find a place in the debate of all developed countries. But technology has actually created the situation. There is now even more plagiarism than we had before the end of 20th century. Technology was seen as a good way to assist plagiarism among students by using online sources to commit academic misconduct, which by Selwyn (2008) is called “cyber cheating”.

On the other hand, technology has also influenced the recognition of plagiarism, and even in recent times it has also influenced its combat, by producing more sophisticated software that helps detecting and fighting against plagiarism, such as the Turnitin software (Turnitin for Higher Education, n.d.), which not only can be used to help detect plagiarism, but also aims to teach the author how to write an academic paper without committing plagiarism. However, this debate is not always welcome, and even in some cases was suffocated, and not allowed to be developed or to be discussed. Steps were even taken to fight it, when it became known about in many countries, especially those still in transition in the 1990s in the Western Balkans, since plagiarism was seen as a good opportunity by those in power to rise unfairly and rapidly on the academic and scientific path.

Also in the Republic of Kosovo, which from 1989–90 until 1999 was under Serbian rule; plagiarism had found its way of entering and is commonly used. Some authors had used their few travel opportunities to obtain and translate books from ← 45 | 46 → different languages (especially Serbo-Croatian language) and to present them as their professional work; some of these academics had completed and defended their doctoral theses in this way. The same situation also existed in Albania until the fall of communism.

Perception of Plagiarism in Kosovo and Albania

The plagiarism phenomenon in Kosovo, as mentioned above, had begun earlier, thought to be some time in the early 1980s, but it started to emerge as an issue only after 1999 in Kosovo, and even later in 2004/5 when the former Rector of the University of Prishtina, Prof. Enver Hasani, started a war against plagiarism at the University of Prishtina (Kompropmis, 2007), which resulted in only a few cases of measures being taken against some professors. Instead of supporting the Rector’s fight against plagiarism, to the contrary, there was a great deal of opposition to this campaign, which in a way showed that Kosovo society is not prepared to fight such cases, although it happens in all civilised societies of the world. This moment showed that Kosovo society and academicians are also not excluded from this unseemly phenomenon.

Furthermore, this problem in the biggest university in Kosovo – the University of Prishtina (UP) – continues to exist, and so far nothing has been done about it. For example, we can quote the report of the Coalition for Integrity and Transparency in University (2017), entitled ‘The situation at the University of Prishtina’, where the statement of the Head of the Governing Council of UP in 2014 declared that “close to 80% of the professors at UP have academic titles and published scientific articles without any scientific value” (Gashi, 2017, p. 7). The discovery of these cases of plagiarism in Kosovo came as a result of the technological boom and the Internet reaching Kosovo only after the war in 1999. The end of the war caused Kosovo to have access to the Internet and to walk with the technology, which caused some well-known professors at the University of Prishtina to be detected as having plagiarised. Of course, these cases can cause difficult situations in the future, where well-known personalities may face charges of plagiarism, which can be a shock for society, and rightly so, as the US Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo, his Excellency Greg Delawie, among other things declared also that “Plagiarism in the classroom – from students to faculty members – is a cancer that destroys the foundations and the credibility of educational institutions.”, (Ademaj, 2017; U.S. Embassy Pristina, 2017) that has to be fought at all levels, on all sides, and by all stakeholders.

In this context, we decided to inform the reader about developments that took place at the University of Prishtina, especially after 1999. The technical-technological expansion itself and the increase in internet usage caused plagiarism and ← 46 | 47 → opened the market and possibilities to commit plagiarism; in short, this phenomenon increased in Kosovo as a result of technology and internet usage. This phenomenon of plagiarism grew in Kosovo similar to countries that are now part of the European Union, such as Romania, and all as a result of the exploitation of technology and the internet. The University of Prishtina, a large university with an enormous capacity, became the center of political bargaining, where most of the politicians, their children, and the children of former or current professors at that time joined the academic staff of the University of Prishtina (Kalaja & Bunjaku, 2017), because now the opportunity to use technology and the internet to plagiarise reached a peak and it became very easy and no one wanted to produce their own individual work. This led many young researchers and young and old professors alike to take advantage of this opportunity offered through developments in technology and the internet and thus they achieved their scholastic results. To illustrate this aspect, we can present one of the many analyses that have been made in Kosovo, and especially that made recently by the Edguard Institute, which is still unpublished research, but was only published as an article by all the media in Kosovo and Koha Ditore newspaper. The report that shows a very high percentage, close to 40% of the academic staff of 70 professors investigated at the University of Prishtina, face problems due to plagiarism (Koha.Net, 2017)

This is evidence of a very profound social problem, a problem that some societies around the world have managed to overcome, in various ways, partly by purchasing software that reveals plagiarism. But this is not the only problem with the plagiarism phenomenon worldwide and in Kosovo especially. A problem that perhaps is even deeper is plagiarism by students. Today, this phenomenon has affected all universities across the globe, and as such has affected the universities in Kosovo as well. Today, homework assignments, seminars, exams, and diploma theses for bachelor and master degrees are plagiarised, and this phenomenon only increases and never decreases. This is due to various reasons, but above all, is because of the economic conditions of young people in Kosovo, who are fortunately the majority. They study because they have no job opportunities, given that within a five-year period around 200,000 young people reached the age of employment while over 110,000 young people entered the labor market (Strategy of Kosovo Government, 2009). In the absence of a job offer, this pushes them to continue and complete their studies, but they are not becoming employed in the profession for which they are taking a degree.

This situation also exists in Kosovo, because the possibilities for research in Kosovo are extremely limited, so universities do not have the capacity for laboratories and are unable to create conditions for various scientific research, even at ← 47 | 48 → the largest university in the country and region – the University of Prishtina, for which Rinor Qehaja in a report on research emphasises that “the biggest illusion that exists for UP is that of being called a scientific institution. According to him, the precondition for a university to make a contribution to science is research, a prerequisite for research is a large budget allocated to it, accessible literature and human capacities” (Boletini, 2017, p. 7), and as a result, we have none of these, then we always will have even more plagiarism, with the sole purpose of continuing the path to success in the academic world.

Another problem, rather smaller in Kosovo, but greater in Albania in recent times, regarding plagiarism, is the purchase of intellectual works, or bachelor or master degrees, and even doctoral theses, which can be unpublished work and may even be very professional but are not original works; this is another problem that we are facing more and more today. Although not very developed, unlike in other countries, we can say that this new form of plagiarism has begun to be applied even in Kosovo in recent years. More and more in the grounds and buildings of universities, in different portals, social media such as Facebook (“Tema te diplomes”, n.d.), there are advertisements for the design of diploma theses for bachelor, master and doctorate degrees, and here we are talking about various scientific works and seminars that students take to pass various exams during their studies, while professors use them to be promoted in their academic career. This issue is still not very pronounced in the Albanian world, because only in a search on Google with the question “we work on diploma thesis” in only 0.42 seconds there are 4,820 results, while in a search in English with the question “we write articles for you”, in only 0.82 seconds are found 315 million results, what makes you realise that this phenomenon is much more developed in the English-speaking world or in universities that have English-language programs, but we cannot deny that it has recently penetrated our societies as well.

While we are explaining doing diploma work for others, we have cases also when professors are starting to do business with diploma theses, considering themselves to possess good knowledge and the skills to write articles and enabling students to take credit without merit or professors to achieve academic advancement without merit. All this is as a result of the fact that retirement in Kosovo is highly undesirable for a university professor, because of the difference between the salary that a professor receives before retiring, and the pension after retirement, which is 80% less.

This phenomenon is very pronounced in all Balkan countries, especially in Albania, where the biggest buyers are politicians (Rrozhani, 2012), who want to have a Doctor of Science degree to open their way after the end of their political ← 48 | 49 → life to jump on the academic bandwagon, and most of the time is being done without any merit. This was proven by Klan TV of Albania, where an investigation made by “STOP” television show has resulted in many more universities being caught guilty of plagiarism (Saimir & Zenelaj, 2017a). This research by Klan TV shows how the buying of a diploma thesis functions, where they operate as companies, and have within them professors from public and private universities. This illustrates and confirms our statements above that nowadays, these firms are very sophisticated and among them have well-known professors, who are also writing new diploma theses, by not committing plagiarism at all, which shows another aspect of plagiarism. The television show ‘STOP’ went even further in their research, and managed to discover some cases of plagiarism in PhD theses as well, which shows a real defect in the system of education in Albania and elsewhere; through this TV show they bring details of this phenomenon involving professors from public and private universities from Albania and Kosovo as well. With this investigation they were trying to give contrary examples; that while in Albania the authors do not face any consequences, they also highlight various examples from EU countries, where for even one paragraph – if it is plagiarised – the authors face serious consequences (Saimir & Zenelaj, 2017b).

Such cases can be said to occur all around the globe, where high-level politicians receive scientific titles through plagiarism. The same thing happened in Romania, even to many senior officials (Fawzy, 2016), but the same has happened in much more democratic countries, such as Germany, where former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg plagiarised most of his doctorate (“Guttenberg plagiarism scandal”, n.d.), using various parts that were borrowed but without mentioning their source. Democratic countries where law and order rule such as Germany cannot be compared with Kosovo, Albania or even Romania, and you have to deal with the consequences for such actions. The same happened with German Defense Minister Guttenberg who received the title ‘Doctor’ from Bayreuth University (“University withdraws”, 2011) and he was pushed by media and social pressure to resign (Pidd, 2011).

All these recent cases complement the third argument that technological and internet impact has made plagiarism detection much easier. Today, the creation of state databases, the design of software, and use of the internet have made it much easier to find plagiarism cases. But the main difference today between developed and developing countries (without talking about underdeveloped countries) is that there is still no will for plagiarizing persons to be revealed, given the fact that most of them also have very high state positions. As such, there is a lack of will and there is no culture or maturity to publicly present such cases, because ← 49 | 50 → in one way or another it would affect the state – even the spirit of a society. And here the difference is deepened in the implementation and use of technology and internet to fight plagiarism.

Fighting Plagiarism in Kosovo – Some Small Steps

Prior to winding up this article and reaching a conclusion, we would like to mention that not everything is black in Kosovo and Albania regarding the fight against plagiarism, and raising awareness of this very bad phenomenon, which has enveloped all countries in the world. We would like to mention that now, in Kosovo, especially in the seven public universities, regulations for a code of ethics are being drafted. Here, we can give the example of the Code of Ethics at “Kadri Zeka” University in Gjilan (University “Kadri Zeka” in Gjilan, 2016), which also covers plagiarism cases, and explains how the rules deal with plagiarism cases of students and academic staff. Some of these universities, especially the University of Prishtina, because of being bigger, have managed to also create a commission of ethics within the university and most of its faculties, the main role of which is to find and fight cases of plagiarism. Meanwhile, other universities, because of their lack of capacity, are still in the process of creating these commissions, while the University of Prizren, because of being some years older in its establishment, has already managed to create a commission of ethics.

For this reason, a Council of Europe project objective is “to support relevant higher education institutions in developing ethical standards, combat corruption and promote best practices of quality and integrity in education” (Council of Europe Office in Prishtina, 2018), because it was seen that regional public universities and even the University of Prishtina do not have the human capacity to deal with ethical standards and increase the quality and integrity in education in Kosovo, where the experts brought by the Council of Europe have assessed the HEI in Kosovo and prepared a report on the situation of Higher Education Institutions in Kosovo (Smith & Hamilton, 2017).

Finally, we can say that in Kosovo we still do not have a national repository for publications, even though there were some efforts to do something in that regard by public universities. The University of Prishtina has started to publish all new PhD theses on the web page of the University, and is continuing to publish all former PhD theses, while it will also continue to publish Master theses. For regional universities, luckily there were only a few generations in one or two universities where Master students graduated; while in another four universities established after 2013, no Master graduation has yet occurred. We in our university as well still do not have any publication of Master theses by students, while for all public ← 50 | 51 → universities and even worse – private colleges – do not at all even try to publish Bachelor theses or other publications, homework or any other work of students during their studies. Above all, there is still no will by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to support software for plagiarism detection at public universities in Kosovo, while there is great demand by universities to do so.

Conclusion and Recommendations

From all the examples given in this article, we can conclude that technical and technological development, and above all the internet, has enabled the revealing of plagiarism, which was conducted earlier in Kosovo, regarding studies presented as the individual or personal work of the author. In that way, technology and internet development has played a positive role.

On the other hand, after 1999–2000, there have been more and more cases of plagiarism in Kosovo and all of this is due to the use of technology and the internet. In Kosovo, the phenomenon of plagiarism has increased in all strata, ranging from students, assistants, young researchers to very well-known professors, who in one way or another have been involved in plagiarism cases; we even have professors who used part of their students’ PhD theses that they had been mentoring.

The last aspect is that technical-technological development and especially the internet have created new and numerous plagiarism detection opportunities. Today, as there are more and more cases of plagiarism, there are also more cases of detection of this plagiarism and all thanks to the use of this technology.

Finally, from what we highlighted in this paper, it can easily be seen that plagiarism as a phenomenon is not occurring only in Kosovo, but is a phenomenon that has gripped the whole world. As such, it is being fought in many ways, starting with the adoption of copyright laws, the establishment of ethical codes in educational institutions, and especially universities, the establishment of ethics commissions across higher education institutions, taking measures against those who are found to have plagiarised. Networks are being created for local and international academic integrity, such as ENAI (“European Network for Academic Integrity”, n.d.), where universities and academic staff can become members and access various publications, which combats plagiarism all over the world as well as cooperating between universities to fight this phenomenon. Above all, the creation of software that detects plagiarism is critical.

In this way, the steps that have been made up to now in Kosovo to combat plagiarism were small, but even so, we have to continue our work to establish a functional commission who will meet regularly and deal with plagiarism cases. We must support this commission because Kosovo and Albanian societies are still ← 51 | 52 → very traditional and everything becomes personal and people may get into trouble for doing their job – fighting cases of plagiarism – and deciding to withdraw a PhD thesis, like in the Guttenberg case.

Universities and especially the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have to support academic staff and students in their research. A good example that has started to be applied by the ministry by supporting all publications of the academic staff which are published in a well-known database, such as SCOPUS and Web of Science (“Ministry of Education, Science and Technology”, 2017). The same support is requested to be made also by the universities, but it is still very difficult, bearing in mind the lack of financial funding to support such kind of publications or participation in conferences, but universities are trying to work with various organizations. A good example is the Council of Europe Office in Prishtina, which for the second year is supporting all Kosovo public universities to send one participant from each to Plagiarism conferences, which took place last year in Brno and continue in 2018 in Turkey. This kind of initiative will have positive results in the future, and will also increase the level of discussion and even combat plagiarism in Kosovo and Albania.

But what also needs to happen today in Kosovo, and why not the world, is the educating children from a young age that they should study honestly and know how to study, that in an unconscious way would discourage a person from carrying out plagiarism.

This can also be changed by providing and publishing data ranging from publishing houses and especially libraries to open access for researchers and advice on how to use resources, or links to data borrowed through a national online platform for referring data, which is connected to international online platforms, because the purpose of the research itself is to find different ideas about an issue and what the author wants and can offer for the same aspect being explored.

This should be the main focus and it is extremely important to emphasise that our countries need to work harder in preventing rather than combating plagiarism, which would greatly facilitate the task or sophistication of ways and means to disclose plagiarism.

The author, researcher and copyright should be in constant collaboration, promoting authorship and adding value to any research, which as a basis has comparative resources at national and international level. This would internationalise the aspect of referral, increasing cooperation at an international level. ← 52 | 53 →

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1 Assistant Prof. Dr. Dukagjin Leka, Law, Dukagjin.leka@uni-gjilan.net

2 Associated Prof. Dr. Bajram Kosumi, Philology, Bajram.kosumi@uni-gjilan.net

3 Kosovo is not exempted from this phenomenon, and to fight it the Law on Copyright and Related Rights was drafted and approved by Kosovo Parliament; however, the Law leaves much to be desired in terms of implementation.