The Police Academy’s management is considering taking extreme measures to block “strangers’” from accessing the Institution’s library. This is after PressOne exclusively revealed that Rector Adrian Iacob’s doctoral thesis is plagiarized and that there is another dozen plagiarized works that have been hidden due to the fear of an implosion.
According to several sources within the Police Academy, three measures to hide these dissertations have been discussed so far, which have emerged in the following order:
- Prohibiting access to the library for individuals who come from outside the institution;
- Prohibiting cellphones and laptops from entering the library;
- Transforming the library from a university library – which is, consequently, public in nature – into a study center with an internal circuit.
After I began asking questions about these three measures, the leadership of the Police Academy took a few steps back, or at least on a declarative note.
Instead, Vice-Rector Mihail Marcoci, who is also a spokesperson for the Academy, brought up the intangibility of the doctoral theses for which there is only one hardcopy – even though
this principle applies solely in the case of the documents stored within the Legal Depository at the National Library of Romania.
Blocking access to the library is not the Police Academy’s management only method of trying to put an end to the domino effect of plagiarism verdicts.
One year ago, the Ethics Commission’s Operating Regulations were amended and
the time allotted to respond to a plagiarism claim was increased from 45 days to 18 months, which violates the Law on Good Conduct in Scientific Research.
Thus, a plagiarism claim that is filed with the Police Academy now receives a response within a period of time that is 12 times longer than what is stipulated by the law.
And based on the statements given by the officials at the Institution, once again the stakes of this move appear to be following: the plagiarized doctoral theses.
Chapter I: The Library
On March 29, four days after the publication of the article regarding Rector Adrian Iacob’s doctoral thesis, I made a new request in which I asked for access to the Police Academy’s library. This was followed up with three others requests in the coming days.
I had been to the Police Academy library several times before.
There, I examined several doctoral theses about which I later wrote articles, stating that they were plagiarized. Among them were the doctoral theses of former Education Minister Liviu Marian Pop, the head of the Inspection Judiciary – Lucian Netejoru, and the Treasurer Alexandru Cătălin Ioniță – the head of the Anticorruption Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
Also on March 29, 2019, Rector Adrian Iacob signed a “Report for the Daily Disposition of the Rector,” through which he established a working group responsible for “Completing and Amending Regulations for the Organization and Operation of Libraries, ”within the Police Academy.
Among others, the Police Inspector Cristina Bubatu – the head of the Services for Quality Assurance in Education and Methodology, (SACIM in Romanian), of the the Police Academy – is part of this group.
Cristina Bubatu moved to the Police Academy from the Psycho-sociology Center of
Ministry of the Interior. She had previously worked at IPJ Ilfov and as an agent at the Craiova Passport Service Office.
Several sources from the Ministry of Interior told us that Bubatu was promoted to her currently role as head of SACIM without having any experience in quality assurance for university-level studies.
The same sources also disclosed that a specific individual put in a good word for Cristina Bubatu. That would be Ciprian Humă, the boss at the Control Body of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the same person that Minister Carmen Dan sent to the Police Academy on April 5 in order to shed light on the reasons for delaying the verification of the doctoral theses.
At the library, with a chaperone
In March and April, I sent four requests asking for access to the library of the Police Academy, so as to examine several doctoral theses.
I received the same answer for all four requests: “The request is to be dealt with by the management of the Police Academy. In a timely manner, we will inform you of the date and time set for the consultation”.
Why does the “leadership” need to decide on what day and at what time someone from outside of the Academy may visit their library?
The Police Academy is not a military unit, however, there is a ministerial order stating that
access to the units within the Ministry of the Interior is granted with the management’s approval, in addition to the condition of being accompanied by a chaperone.
For example, at the National Defense University (UNAP), a request for access to the library
is approved for an entire academic year, after which you can go anytime, whenever the library is open.
There is only one condition: to announce your arrival in advance, in order to be accompanied by an employee from the gate to the library. This is because UNAP is a military unit.
The library – the enemy number one
According to our sources, the working group responsible for “Completing and Amending Regulations for the Organization and Operation of Libraries, ” within the Police Academy, initially received two options from the Police Academy’s leadership:
- Prohibiting access to the library for individuals who come from outside the institution;
- Prohibiting cellphones and laptops from entering the library;
The first option was dropped after consulting the Law on Libraries, which clearly states that university libraries are public domain.
The second possibility, whereby an individual from outside the Academy would no longer be able to enter the library with a laptop and mobile phone, remained on the working group’s list of options.
We also have the proof: a letter dated April 9, in which a student from the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences, who is also a reporter for the online publication called Podul, (The Bridge) is informed that she is allowed to access the library, but without a laptop or cellphone.
By accident, this response was sent to me on April 11, 2019.
Here it is:
(Content of letter translated:
“Mrs. Bianca-Ioana Venter
this letter is sent through electronic mail to the email address: ——–
As a response to your letter 4522314/04.04.2019, we would like to inform you that your request to access the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” Library belonging to the Police Academy has been granted. You will be able the library on April 15,2019 and April 16,2019, between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm, without a laptop or a cellphone that has a camera.
When Vice-Rector Mihail Marcoci, who is also a spokesperson for the Police Academy, was contacted by telephone on the morning of Friday, April 12, he initially denied the existence of this working group, which has the modification of the Library’s rules of operation as its objective.
“If a compulsory working group had been established, it would have been within the Secretariat, which is under my jurisdiction, and yet I don’t know anything about it.
The library is also under my jurisdiction, through the Secretariat, and I have great doubts that anyone could show up and declare that we no longer allow any access to it. “
When asked why the journalist from Podul newspaper was only allowed access if she did not carry a laptop and phone on her, Professor Marcoci told us that she could send the Institution a new request and consequently, she would be granted access to the library, together with her laptop and phone.
He continued to deny the existence of the working group that exists for the sole purpose of changing the Library’s operating regulations.
“That working group you keep mentioning doesn’t exist. Whoever informed you about that gave you completely and totally incorrect information. What I can tell you is that at the moment, I’m sure there is no such working group in place. I mean, I don’t think so. I’m 99% sure.
It may just have been put together during a meeting that I did not attend, but, again, it would have been my responsibility to appoint an individual from the Secretariat, the department of the Academy which has the library under its jurisdiction, ” insisted Mihail Marcoci.
He promised that he would look into it and would return to me with information later in the afternoon.
Four hours later, Rector Marcoci got back to me through a phone call, and the following dialogue took place between us:
“- I looked into it. I can confirm that there is indeed a working group, but there are several regulations, which are under evaluation. So far, I have gathered that there are about five. Among these are the library regulations, which are under evaluation.
- Based on what you’ve said, there will be no restriction on visitors who are not part of the Academy and who come to use the library. But will there be any restrictions on accessing the library with a laptop and phone?
- A restriction can be imposed on access to the library with a cell phone and laptop if you are consulting works that are, I do not know, may be of another category, or perhaps may not be intended to be publicized.
What do you mean? If I want to take a look at a doctoral thesis, am I not allowed to come with my laptop and phone?
- Has there been a legislative change that would prohibit accessing the library with your laptop and phone? So then? We will act in no way that is contrary to what is written in the law.
A university library is a public library and you have no way to limit the access of individuals who are neither staff nor student. There is a “reference only” section in which the doctoral theses are located, but, I repeat, no one will ever limit anyone’s access to the library.
- The “reference only” department is at the Legal Depository of the National Library, Mr. Marcoci.
- We have one as well, because the intangibility of the dissertations is a result of the fact that there is only one copy available.
But, again, we, unlike other libraries, have never declared, not even for a minute, that there is limited access to them.
- The single “reference only” department (or intangible section) in Romania is located in the National Library of Romania, as the doctoral theses shelved there cannot be consulted in physical format, but strictly in electronic format. And that is why doctoral dissertations, which by law are public documents, can be consulted at the libraries of the department or universities where they were defended.
- Ma’am, the intangibility is a result of the fact that only one copy exists.
- Mr. Marcoci, where exactly is this provision written? Precisely where does it say that dissertations are intangible if there is only one copy located in the university’s library?
(Ironically) – I believe that in the United States, everyone can have access to the Declaration of Independence.
- Let’s not compare the Declaration of Independence with a doctoral thesis, which, by law, is a public document.
- Ma’am, this is a matter regarding one copy of a dissertation. But, I repeat, no one has ever impeded anyone from accessing the dissertations. No one will be prevented from accessing other works in the library. ”
What Are the Intangible Resources?
In Romania, the written cultural heritage of the nation is preserved within the Legal Depository of the National Library.
The Legal Depository is regulated by a special law and contains of printing works (books, publications, etc.), as well as of other graphic and audiovisual resources.
All the documents found within the Legal Deposit are organized in an intangible resource department and cannot be viewed in the original version, but rather, in a copied substitute.
These provisions do not apply in the case of other libraries, and all the resources that exist in a single copy can be only consulted in the reading rooms.
Transforming the library into a “Center”
Since the Law on Libraries clearly stipulates that university libraries are public domain, it is not possible to prohibit access to them.
In addition, the possibility of prohibiting the use of laptops and of phones in the library cannot be justified in any credible way, given the fact that these devices have so far been allowed access at the Police Academy’s library.
And so taking these circumstances into consideration, the only means through which “outside” individuals may be barred from accessing the doctoral theses would be by changing the status of the library.
Our sources assert that the option of transforming the library into a study center for internal individuals only was discussed within the management meetings of the Police Academy.
This issue became too overwhelming for the employees who were given the task of changing the library’s regulations and they began to ask for the viewpoint of several departments in the Academy.
However, it is not possible to transform the library into something else, such as a study center, because the accreditation granted to a university by the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ARACIS) is currently based on the existence of a library within the institution.
According to the mandatory requirements that ARACIS imposes, a higher education institution must prove that it has a library, which is equipped with a reading room and its own collection of books, corresponding to the disciplines that are offered in the curricula for the university’s programs of study (bachelor’s and master’s degrees included).
Vice-Rector Marcoci announced that the programs of study offered at the Police Academy are to be evaluated by ARACIS next year.
Chapter II: The Ethics Committee
Purposely delaying the manifestation of more plagiarism verdicts has become an institutional policy at the Police Academy, even if it means that they might have to break the law as a result.
On January 15, 2018, the Senate of the Academy adopted an amendment regarding the Ethics Commission’s operating regulations. This amendment stipulates that the response time for a plagiarism claim is no longer 45 days, but rather, it has been increased to 18 months.
The president of the Senate, Professor Andrei Dragoș Ignat, told us that the amendment received an almost unanimous vote.
He says this change occurred as a result of a letter that the Senate received on January 10, 2018, whereby the Ethics Committee “communicates the request to amend Article 19, Paragraph 7, of its Operating Regulation”.
The reason that was given to us by the Ethics Committee: the response time was too short to truly permit a plagiarism claim to be investigated.
“On the other hand, they brought up examples of other universities, such as« Babes-Bolyai », the Western University of Timișoara, University, « A.I. Cuza » in Iasi and so on,” explained Professor Ignat
A unanimous decision
The president of the Ethics Commission of the Police Academy, Professor Marius Mihăilă, confirms that he used other universities as models to come up with the amendment:
“We observed this (extended) practice at the Western University of Timișoara, where the Ethics Commission has a period of one year to respond to a plagiarism claim. This is why we considered that 18 months to be a reasonable timeframe.”
When I asked him what whose idea it was to extend the period of time to a year and a half, Mihăilă said it was a decision that came from all the members of the Ethics Committee.
“An investigation depends on several factors. And first of all, in this particular situation, we are we referring to the right to defend oneself.
We the members of the Ethics Committee, conduct hearings with the individual involved in the plagiarism claim. There were situations in which we had hearings with the author of the thesis and the doctoral supervisor …
There were incidents when, one month after the first hearing, the person accused of plagiarism requested a new hearing. We cannot violate their right to defend themselves. On top of that, our students have a practicum at the end of each semester.”
Although an Ethics Committee does not just take on cases regarding controversial theses, the arguments that Marcoci presented were solely related to those concerning plagiarism cases.
A University Ethics Committee may also be notified regarding other issues in which an urgent response is required, such as an application for a job position, which cannot be validated by the Ministry of Education until the case has been resolved.
Professor Mihăilă also informed us that, when suitable, the Police Academy’s Ethics Committee gives verdicts quite rapidly, without telling us what happens if the students find themselves in an exam period or on their practicum.
is the response timeframe for the Police Academy’s Ethics Committee.
How to break the law
The Codes of Ethics and the Operating Regulations of the Ethics Committees belonging to Romanian universities must be in accordance with the Education Law (no. 1/2011) and Law 206/2004 on good conduct in scientific research.
The deadline that a university Ethics Committee has in regards to providing a response for a claim is explicitly stipulated in Article 11, Paragraph 3, of Law 206/2004:
“The analysis commission prepares a report that is approved by the ethics committee, communicates to the author who has brought forth the claim – in writing – and then makes the matter public on the institution’s website, within 45 calendar days after receiving the claim.”
The increase of the deadline for providing a response, from 45 days to 18 months, is difficult to justify, considering that the Police Academy not only has a Law Department, but also a legal department that oversees the legality of the documents issued by the Institution.
At the other two military universities that have doctoral programs – the SRI Academy and UNAP – the deadline for responding to any issued claims is 45 days.
What is the timeframe given for providing a response in public universities?
The Western University of Timișoara (UVT in Romanian) grants a maximum of a one-year period to provide a response, while the “Babeș-Bolyai” University (UBB) of Cluj and the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași do not have clear deadlines at all.
“The Commission will respond to the author of the claim, within 30 days of receiving it, regardless if the procedure for analyzing and resolving the claim has been initiated.
The result of the deliberations will be communicated to the author of the claim after the date of the resolution, not later than one year from the registration of the claim”, states the Operating Regulation of the UVT Ethics Commission.
When contacted by telephone, Professor Mihaela Tomiță, President of the UVT Ethics Committee, told us that she took on the responsibility of running the Ethics Commission just two weeks prior and asked for some time to check the status of their operations in terms of legalities.
At the “Babeș-Bolyai” University (UBB) of Cluj, the Ethics Commission’s Operating Regulation states only that the result of the deliberations is to be communicated “after the date of their resolution:”
“Following a claim, the University’s Ethics Commission initiates the procedures established by the Code of Ethics and deontology, respectively by Law no. 206/2004, as subsequently amended and supplemented.
The Commission shall respond to the author of the claim within 30 days of its receipt if the request is well-founded and the investigation is started / if the claim is not well-founded and the investigation is not started, then the author of the claim will be informed of the result of the investigation after it is concluded.”
The same unclear provision exists at the University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” in Iași.