Academia letter against plagiarism changes. President Iohannis: Intellectual theft must be severely punished

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An open letter addressed to President Klaus Iohannis, signed by over 200 academicians, researchers and civic activists, claims that a legislative initiative by the Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu, could compromise anti-plagiarism efforts. The head of state stated that he is dissatisfied with the Government’s project and that he has “zero tolerance for any deviation from the culture of integrity in academia.” The president also claims that “the competent institutions must drastically sanction those who illegally appropriate the intellectual work of others, but also those who facilitate this.”

“I have taken note of the open letter of an important part of the academic community and civil society who, in solidarity, voice their dissatisfaction with the draft law proposing substantial changes in the methodology of analysis of plagiarism complaints in PhD theses, initiated by Ministry of Education. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I have zero tolerance for any deviation from the culture of the academic integrity. My position on the phenomenon of plagiarism remains unchanged! Society’s performance and confidence in academics and research are decisively influenced by the ability of institutions to credibly and expeditiously resolve suspicions of plagiarism. The fight against plagiarism should not be limited to sanctioning deviations from the rules of integrity of academic writing, but concrete and coherent action is needed to prevent the establishment of a “culture of plagiarism” and to avoid compromising the quality in education and research. Plagiarism means intellectual theft and it is unacceptable that, facing conclusive evidence, accused persons should not take a step back, as is the case in established democracies. In order to progress as a society, the competent institutions must drastically sanction those who illegally appropriate the intellectual work of others, but also those who facilitate this. I appreciate that the civil society and the academic environment have clearly expressed their point of view and expectations regarding the proposed amendments to the Regulation on the organization and functioning of the National Council for Attestation of University Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates. I ask the initiators of the project to take into account the concerns and risks noticed in the public space and to act accordingly “, according to a press statement of President Klaus Iohannis, issued by the Presidential Administration.

Three organizations and civic movements, along with over 160 university professors and researchers from Romania and abroad, asked in an open letter to President Klaus Iohannis to take a public stance on the recent legislative initiative of the Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu, to amend the legislation National Council for Attestation of University Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU), “which creates legal mechanisms to rescue plagiarists, but also tools that will make it difficult or impossible to issue plagiarism verdicts”.

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