A Large Quantity of Diplomas Downgrades Their Quality

Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev instructed the government to work out, by March 31, 2013, the plagiarism check system for students' graduation thesis and dissertations for a candidate or a doctoral degree, as well as the rules of placing dissertations on the Internet.

In the beginning of February Medvedev paid attention to the exorbitant amount of fake candidates and doctors and suggested that we should put an end to it posting all the works (including students' course papers) on the Internet.

The latest dissertation plagiarism scandals can hardly be called one-off events - the facts revealed are only the tip of the iceberg. As a matter of fact, the number of dissertations with plagiarism is rather big, and especially noticeable it is in humanitarian and social sciences, for in these spheres it seems easier to copy other scientists' materials, and the volumes of works are considerably bigger. Writing a dissertation thesis conscientiously is a laborious and, which is even more important, very time-consuming process. If a government official has defended a dissertation, it either means that s/he has been busy with the scientific career completely neglecting the direct duties for a couple of years, or has the dissertation written for her/him by someone else. Whatever the case, it is a bad signal for both currently involved and potential participants of the educational process. As a result, everybody knows that the quality of these so to say scientific works and the value of a candidate or doctoral degree downgrade.


I would like to note that neither Russian economy, nor science needs such an amount of candidates (PhD) in law or economics. Moreover, at a definite level the quantity of diplomas turns out to be a certain disadvantage, for an excessive diploma issuing devaluates their quality, and a PhD diploma becomes a weak signal for employers, which, of course, does an enormous harm to conscientious dissertationists.


In Russia, unlike the USA, an advanced degree (candidate's or doctor's) is awarded by a single state committee (Supreme Attestation Commission), which guarantees the quality of the defended dissertations. It would, probably, make sense to refuse in future fr om the state's guaranteeing the quality of candidates and doctors diplomas, because technically it is next to impossible with such an amount of them. If this happens, the place of defense will be more essential (as in the USA, wh ere, for example, PhD degrees awarded by Harvard or University of Texas differ considerably). Each research establishment will define its own demands to dissertationists, and the quality of works will influence the reputation of the Dissertation Councils.


Besides, it is an open secret that a very important factor influencing the educational system and distorting the motivation of young men is the compulsory military service, which is advantageous only to military lobby. The existence of this social institution gives an impetus to the development of higher educational establishments, issuing fake diplomas, and fee-based postgraduate courses, with the only aim to grant the possibility of military service postponement.


A.Yu. Knobel - Head of the International Trade Department