"Dissergate": More Revelations to Come

The controversy around fake theses and undeserved academic degrees began in late 2012 and has since then affected university teachers and administrations, prominent politicians and business people. The scandal is now looming over the Supreme Certification Commission.

Who will be most severely affected by “Dissergate”- the author of the plagiarized work, the person who ordered it, or the reputation of a university involved, or perhaps all of Russian society?

I think this question has two sides to it. First of all, this story opens up a whole range of issues concerning the low quality of theses often written by shadow writers. Secondly, the issue has become a subject of conflict between the regulatory authorities and particular individuals involved. These parties include the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Education and decision-makers from the educational regulatory bodies. I think it is impossible to say who is right and who is wrong. The blame lies on everyone, especially because this scandal has tainted the entire research and education community. There will be no winners here.

Viktor Matrosov was dismissed from the post of Rector of the Moscow State Pedagogical University. Why did this happen only now? Does this mean that officials have not yet worked out a solution to this problem?

The officials that you are talking about include different groups of influence. The conflict is taking place behind the scenes while there must be a scapegoat to distract the public, because the opponent seems to be winning.

Do you think there will be more exposures and dismissals related to “Dissergate”? Or do you think a couple of dismissals did the trick?

Anything is possible. Dismissals may continue until the officials say enough. They have not said anything so far so I guess the Darwinian-style “clean-up” continues. The fittest will survive.

What sanctions should be imposed on those who received a degree by fraudulent means to advance in their career? Will it be enough to withdraw their degree? Or should the exposure lead to dismissal and other punitive measures?

The consequences should be clearly fixed by law. There should be no making up punishments. Obviously, a code of conduct of sorts should be observed.

Do you think international experience may be helpful in this respect? Does this controversy imply that Russia is very slow to embrace the international legal practice? In many countries plagiarism can cost you your career.

I wish there were an honest intention to sanitize our research community. Unfortunately, I recognize the familiar signs of bureaucratic intrigue. But in general, yes. I’m glad that we started the ball rolling.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.