Project in year 2020
In 2020, nine Czech and Moravian universities joined forces in the Strengthening the Prevention of Plagiarism in Student Works project, intending to initiate an interuniversity dialogue and, above all, practical cooperation in supporting academic ethics and preventing fraudulent practices in academic writing. We evaluated the current state of prevention, detection and resolving plagiarism at Czech universities, we tried to identify and draw attention to examples of good practice, start a discussion on what is perceived as unethical practice in the Czech environment, and propose the most appropriate definition of plagiarism for shared use. We prepared recommendations for universities and handbooks for teachers and students and, most importantly, we have established platforms through which various actors from Czech universities can share their experiences and ideas. Our main goal remains to gradually unify the criteria to assess the severity of plagiarism and to systematically strengthen the awareness of destructive or unethical practices in the academic environment. Our project is based on the belief that plagiarism and other fraudulent practices must be tackled not only by repression but above all by prevention.
Project in year 2021
In 2021, the project was expanded to include ten more universities and colleges - it turned out that the issue of academic ethics resonated across the Czech higher education system and there was a huge demand to deal with it on a systemic level. At the same time, all partner universities were exposed to new challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, even in the field of academic ethics. The project, therefore, decided to respond to this demand and use the structure it had created to start a debate on the consequences of the pandemic, the responses to it, and the advent of distance learning methods for academic ethics and integrity. Therefore, the project Strengthening the Academic Integrity of University Students with a Focus on the Risks and Opportunities of Distance Learning and Assessment Methods deals with mechanisms which could help institutions strengthen their resilience to academic fraud, building on our own as well as foreign experience. We also analyze examples of good practice created during the pandemic semesters, and we formulate recommendations for academic management, teachers, and students on how to prevent fraud in distance and non-distance conditions.
Thanks to the diversity of partners involved, we can also better name and take into account the needs and requirements of different types of educational institutions in the 2021 project, for example when working with non-text sources. Communicating topics related to academic ethics to the general public, academic as well as non-academic, is also an integral part of the 2021 project. Our approach is based on the belief that understanding the structural risks that rise from the Czech higher education system, not only for the academic environment itself but also for the society in which academic graduates work, is a condition to systematically strengthening its resistance to academic fraud. Therefore, the online magazine Universitas is also cooperating with us in the project this year and helps communicate partial academic ethics topics in an understandable way to other audiences.
The project is coordinated by Masaryk University, the project team is composed of all partner universities’ representatives and other invited experts. In addition to implementing the relevant parts of the project, the partner universities are involved in joint project activities and thus contribute to achieving the project’s objectives. The project is financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
Umbrella Project Team