Although some universities have been requiring students to take full responsibility for breaches of academic ethics, their thesis advisers should still be held accountable for such breaches, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday.
Amid rising cases of thesis plagiarism in Taiwan’s higher education, many universities have begun requiring students to sign an affidavit prior to the oral defense of their thesis to state their willingness to take full legal liability should any breaches of academic ethics be found in their theses or written reports, the ministry said.
However, thesis advisers are still liable for the responsibilities related to their position, regardless of whether a student has signed such an affidavit, given that they are required to conduct regular meetings with students and keep them on the right track, it said.
Photo: Lin Hsiao-yun, Taipei Times
Academic institutions also need to accept accountability to improve their mechanisms for quality assurance for graduate theses in the face of ethics breaches, it added.
The ministry would take into account universities’ performance on thesis quality and addressing academic dishonesty when determining their student quota and evaluating a school’s application to establish a new department, it said.
The ministry said that it would reveal the information on how universities discipline departments to uphold academic ethics and the outcomes.
National Taiwan Normal University has said that it revised its Degree Conferral and Graduate Degree Exam Regulations in May 2016 to demand that graduate students submit an affidavit to take responsibility for their research and writing.
The university said that it also has mechanisms in place to hold to account advisers who have been implicated in breaches of academic integrity.
To combat thesis plagiarism and writing by proxies, the ministry on July 8 unveiled eight measures to ensure the quality of graduate theses, including establishing a mechanism to investigate schools that fail to properly evaluate theses or hold to account faculty involved in thesis-related infractions, and adjusting enrollment at these institutions by enforcing lower enrollment or even zero enrollment.
The ministry would also publish the ratio of theses not made public at each institution and the ratio of oral defense evaluation committee members hired through “special circumstances,” as well as schools’ rationale behind hiring committee members through such means.
The measures are to be implemented next year.
Additional reporting by Rachel Lin
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