Embattled Russian higher education commission refuses to hear report on falsified dissertations
The Commission to Combat the Falsification of Scholarly Research, which operates within the Russian Academy of Science (RAN), spent six months preparing a report on academic integrity violations in academic dissertations only to have the Higher Attestation Commission (VAK) refuse to hear the results. RAN representatives had planned to present their findings on June 28, the same day the VAK was scheduled to review a dissertation some academics said had been plagiarized. VAK Presidium member Anna Dybo said that Vladimir Filippov, the head of the VAK, refused to let the RAN academics into the hearing room on the grounds that “we are scholars, not investigators.” However, it is one of the VAK’s primary duties to review completed dissertations for academic integrity violations.
After the VAK did not allow RAN academics to enter and dismissed the plagiarism charges presented during its hearing, the RAN scholars called its actions “a slap in the face” and said they would pursue the issue with Russia’s Science and Education Ministry.
The VAK became a subject of intense controversy in Russian academia after it upheld a dissertation by Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky in October 2017 despite many scholars’ assertions that the dissertation contained unacceptable errors. That controversy has flared again in recent months due to turnover in the VAK that excluded academics who have attempted to take a stand against falsified dissertations.