The deaf war that took place behind doors at the Ministry of the Interior – a war regarding individuals from the Police Academy who had plagiarized their dissertations – has now moved into the public eye.
During the last three years, several officials, both from the Ministry and from the Police Academy, announced that all the doctoral theses defended in this Institution, which prepares future police officers, would be investigated. However, there have been no concrete results of his investigation following the announcement.
From “we will check all dissertations”, it became “we will check dissertations defended between 2007-2011” and now finally, it has been concluded “we will only check dissertations that were defended between 2011-2017”.
After three years of waiting, during which time the media has brought to attention the fact that there were several cases of plagiarism committed at the Police Academy, we have been informed that so far, only six theses have been verified by the Ethics Commission.
We cannot even be certain if these dissertations investigated by the Ethics Commission are the same ones that have been written about in the media (as a result of having been accused of plagiarism).
Earlier this month, Minister of the Interior, Carmen Dan, sent an Investigative Body to the Police Academy to explore why the theses investigation has not been completed, even though it has been almost half a year since the last investigation had been announced.
Consequently, the Police Academy’s management replied that no investigations could be carried out as a result of the two students who are also members of the Ethics Committee, who were taking exams and, later, completing their mandatory internship.
The belligerent partakers in this war of attrition are numerous, with varying self-interests:
- plagiarists with important positions, who are afraid of the consequences of a plagiarism verdict;
- professors from the Police Academy who plagiarized their theses and for which a plagiarism verdict would be equivalent to the culmination of their academic career;
- professors who supervised plagiarized dissertations and who could lose their right to remaining supervisors and consequently, lose a meaningful source of income;
- the protégés of the plagiarists, who prefer that the latter remain in a position where they are easily manipulated
- a plethora of Quaestors from the Ministry of the Interior as well as officers from the the Ministry’s secret service. These are individuals who are playing a prominent role in this war, seeking to reinforce their own power and influence;
- the management of the Ministry of the Interior, which can either use the incidence of plagiarism as a pretext to blackmail, or can play their cards correctly and tidy up the system.
About 580 employees of the Ministry of Interior have doctoral degrees.
The Police Academy has found itself in a paradoxical situation amonsgst Romanian universities.
The Police Academy has some of the highest achieving high school graduates in the country, considering the grueling requirements of the entrance exam. In 2018, for example, the ratio of applicants to admittances at the Police academy was ten to one.
However, some professors leave much to be desired from an ethical and pedagogical perspective.
Various sources, among them graduates of the Police Academy, have told us, for example, about the driver of former Rector Costică Voicu who ended becoming a doctoral supervisor and about former platoon commanders in charge of the students’ physical training who ended up becoming university professors. We were also informed about a about a number of professors who lecture by reading directly off of their notes because they are not able to speak freely.
Since the Police Academy is doubly coordinated – by the Ministry of the Interior, and by the Ministry of Education -, a thorough audit, particularly an exploration of the Educational Act, has never been conducted.
The Academy’s reputation has been fueled year after by the gossip regarding how difficult it is for students to be admitted.
Behind the military hierarchy, however, an influence and power-based mechanism, related to the granting of doctoral degrees in Public Order and National Security, has been consolidated.
As a result, a whole network of so-called doctors who have PhDs has spread throughout the internal structure of the Ministry of the Interior.
As a result of having this title of Doctor in Philosophy, certain leadership positions were obtained, individuals were promoted in their positions, and military ranks and bonuses were granted.
When personal goals have nothing to do with science and research, a doctoral degree is a business endeavor. A business endeavor that brings money to the owner yet one that causes the state to lose, particularly if that title was obtained on the basis of a plagiarism.
According to an inquiry put forth by former senator Valeriu Marian, addressed to the Ministry of Interior Affairs in 2014, 697 employees of the Ministry obtained a PhD during the period 2005-2014; 12 titles were obtained in the Republic of Moldova.
Sources from the Ministry of the Interior told us that within all the departments of the Institution, there are about 580 employees who hold doctoral degrees. The annual amount that the state allocates as an allowance for a doctor is 550,000 lei.
Why has nothing been done in this regard?
Because almost all the professors at the Police Academy have worked to maintain this corrupt system.
Plagiarized works have been published in journals, and later, in books upon books that are ridden with identical content – but published under different titles, so as not to attract attention. All of the books with the same content were listed in the applications of the individuals who were competing for positions as lecturers- in order to increase their points.
And the professors who remained honest closed their eyes and became complicit.
This system has been perpetuated and expanded to the extent of an implosion during the last 15 years, without being “grabbed by the horns” by the Ministry of Education or any of the institutions that coordinate it: the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ARACIS), the National Council for the Attestation of University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU) or the National Council for Ethics in Scientific Research, Technological Development and Innovation (CNECSDTI).
History of the announced investigations
During the three years since the management of the Police Academy announced that all doctorates will be investigated, the media has successfully brought forth more evidence of plagiarism than the Institution itself.
Minister Carmen Dan recently claimed that Academy’s Ethics Committee only investigated six dissertations and no conclusion has been drawn regarding whether or not these theses were plagiarized.
In the media, there were articles that appeared regarding nine plagiarized dissertations – those written by Robert Negoiță, Dumitru Pârvu, Liviu Marian Pop, Lucian Netejoru, Alexandru Cătălin Ioniță, Adrian Iacob, Florea Oprea, Bogdan Ciobanu and Dorel Matei.
Although it is legal to do so, the Ethics Commission of the Police Academy did not pronounce itself in any of these cases.
Moreover, the evolution of events reveals rather formal positions, which do not have the objective this decision to shed light on the light on the authenticity of the doctoral theses.
July 25, 2016. The Rector of the Police Academy, Daniel Torje, announces the investigation of all the doctoral theses that were defended within the institution.
This announcement is made after the Ethics Commission declares that the offense of multiple plagiarism is committed in the work of Sector 3 Mayor, Robert Negoiță. PressOne had written exclusively about this incident and disclose that his dissertation was completely plagiarized.
“The decision to investigate all the dissertations came after various articles were published in the media regarding suspected plagiarism. I asked the Director of the Doctoral School to investigate all the theses that were defended since the establishment of the School. The investigation is ongoing,” the Rector said at the time.
The Director of the Doctoral School who was then asked to investigate the theses is now the current Rrector of the Academy, Adrian Iacob, about whom PressOne recently released an article reveal that he had plagiarized a large portion of his doctoral thesis.
May 30, 2018. Minister of the Interior, Carmen Dan, announces that the theses defended at the Police Academy will be investigated for the sake of determining whether or not they were plagiarized.
The pretext she invoked: the audit that had been commenced by former Rector Daniel Torje.
“There was a discussion about it and it is important to be concerned about the matter, particularly because it was a rector of the Police Academy who announced that he will ensure the investigation of the doctoral work is a priority, yet so far, it had not been the case. I am satisfied to see that the current rector of the Police Academy has taken this initiative into account and I fully upport him in this endeavor, ” said Minister Carmen Dan.
Adrian Iacob, the former Directorof the Doctoral School, had been appointed Rector just a month before this declaration was made. He was elected by the faculty of the Police Academy.
Our inside sources claim that the doctoral dissertation investigation was decided upon following a discussion between Minister Carmen Dan and the new Rector, Adrian Iacob, in which he was asked to place the investigation of the theses defended during 2007-2011 in high priority. But not the dissertations would be investigated, as Daniel Torje, former Rector, had announced two years before.
Apparently, Minister Dan was satisfied with the 2007-2011 timeframe because “after 2011, anti-plagiarism software had been verified”.
“To begin with, we will investigate about 80 dissertations, and we are specifically referring to the dissertations that belong to certain individuals employed by tje Ministry, who receive an allowance for a doctoral degree,” says Carmen Dan.
PressOne’s sources also claim that, at the end of that discussion between Minister Carmen Dan and freshly-appointed Rector Adrian Iacob, he would have told her that, should the slightest suspicion arise regarding his activity, he would withdraw from office along with the management team he had chosen.
Adrian Iacob was accused of plagiarism, yet he did not give up any of the positions he held: Rector of the Police Academy, Vice-President of the CNATDCU Military Sciences Commission and member of the Academy for National Security Sciences (ASSN).
September 28, 2018. Minister of the Interior Carmen Dan says that “the report on the investigation of doctoral theses from the Police Academy will be presented on November 15”.
The Minister also said that she spoke with the Rector of the Academy and that he has “total willingness” to make the results of the investigation available to the public.
October 31, 2018. The Board of Directors of the Police Academy issues a decision establishing that only the dissertations defended between 2011-2017 would be verified, challenging the request of the Minister of Interior, who had requested to analyze only the dissertations submitted between 2007-2011.
This was under the condition that the investigative report be submitted on November 15, as Minister Dan had announced on September 28.
November 19, 2018. in a press conference, Vice-Rector Mihai Marcoci states that 55 of the 149 dissertations which were defended between 2011-2018 and that have been verified, exceed the permissible similarity threshold, which could mean plagiarism.
Prior to the press conference, Vice Rector Marcoci had explained to a group of journalists why he had been the one to bear the news: “Vicious wars will take place here because of the plagiarism claims, that’s why I took over as spokesman.”
Marcoci, who is now a university professor, was an operational officer in the intelligence service of the Ministry of Interior between 2001 and 2005. between 2012 and 2016, he was Director of the Academy’s Ethics Committee.
At that press conference, he was unable to answer key questions, although he was supposed to present the statistics regarding an investigation:
- How many dissertations were defended at the Police Academy during the period between 2011-2017?
- How many dissertations were defended at the Doctoral School of Law of the Academy between the period of 2011-2017?
- How many dissertations were defended at the Doctoral School in Public Order and National Security in the period between 2011-2017?
- How many of the dissertations submitted before 2011 exist in Word format in the headquarters of the Police Academy?
- How many of the investigated dissertations belong to employees of the Ministry of Interior?
In order to receive the following information, we had to send the following request to the Academy’s Press Office, which told us that, between 2011-2017, 287 doctoral theses were defended at the Police Academy.
However, only 149 of them made it to the internal audit.
When asked by phone why not all the 287 theses were investigated, Rector Marcoci said that 54 dissertations are not available in Word format within the archives of the Police Academy, and another 84 were defended in 2016 and 2017, when dissertations were already being processed through a software that checked if it was plagiarized, a mandatory procedure.
However, according to official data from the Ministry of Education, in 2016 and 2017, at the Police Academy, a total of 40 doctoral dissertations – not 84, as stated by Marcoci – were defended,. And 34 of these dissertations were in the field of Public Order and National Security, while six were in the field of Law.
According to Marcoci, the Police.Academy sent official letters asking the 54 PhD alumni whose theses were not found in Word formatto send an electronic copy to the institution.
March 21, 2019. The Board of Directors of the Police Academy unanimously decides, at the request of the Ministry of Interior Affairs’ management, to verify the doctoral theses of the rector, vice-rectors, deans and heads of the Intelligence services, in order to “shed light on all the allegations published in the press and in the online environment.”
The decision is announced in a section this is not at all visible on the Academy’s website, in the form of a press release.
“The anti-plagiarism investigation of the doctoral theses of (sic – n.r.) the aforementioned persons will be carried out regardless of the year when they were defended – by the university where these studies were completed”, the press release states.
March 25, 2019. PressOne exclusively publishes an analysis of the PhD dissertation belonging to rector Adrian Iacob, which shows that at least 70% of the content in it is plagiarized.
Regarding his thesis, Jacob makes a declaration to us: “All the elements of plagiarism you have noted will go to the Ethics Committee of the Academy, to be verified”.
March 26, 2019. On the website of the Police Academy, in the same barely visible section, a new press release appears, announcing that the Tector asked the University Ethics and Deontology Commission to initiate specialized investigations in the case of his doctoral thesis.
“The investigations are to be carried out by taking into account the legal and methodological norms in force at the date when the doctoral dissertation was defended, the statement states.
This sentence is key in trading the announcement.
Therefore, the investigations will not be carried out, as they normally should, using the international norms of university ethics at the standard.
April 5, 2019 *. In a press release, the Ministry of the Interior announces that it sent its investigative body to the Police Academy, because it is considering that “in almost six months”, only six doctoral dissertations were verified and six viewpoint were issued. “An evaluation of how this process is being undertaken is now required,” the statement said.
The investigation that was carried out, which was initiated by Minister Carmen Dan, originated from an administrative decision, particularly because the Investigative Body does not have the capacity to verify the content of the dissertations from an ethical standpoint.
However, the Investigation Body does have the ability to correctly determine the following:
- how many theses have been defended within the Police Academy since it was founded and until now;
- how many theses are present within the Police Academy in physical format and how many are missing;
- how many dissertations exist in electronic format within the Police Academy and how many are missing – although they should exist;
- how many of these dissertations belong to employees of the Ministry of the Interior;
- what kind of parameters were set in the similarity-checking software employed by the Police Academy – the Anti-plagiarism System;
- how the Ethics Commission of the Police Academy functions.
April 5, 2019 **. In a press release, Rector Mihail Marcoci responds to Minister Carmen Dan by saying that it was not about “almost six months”, as the Ministry of the Interior had articulated it in a public statement, but rather about only 17 days of investigations.
In reality, between Minister Carmen Dan’s announcement on May 30 until the Investigative Body was dispatched to the Police Academy, 310 days passed, not 17.
How the Police Academy fakes the verification of dissertations
The key to Police Academy’s delays in their verification procedure is the result of two students who are compulsory members of the Ethics Committee, the only commission that has the attributions to qualitatively analyze the doctoral theses.
And so their presence on the Ethics Committee is used by the Academy’s management to justify the delay of the investigation and to delay them even further.
Rector Mihail Marcoci claims that the two students could only work in the Ethics Commission for 17 days.
“Between January 28 – February 11, our students were in their exam period. In order to comply with the provisions of the legal framework, namely the National Education Law, the Ethics Commission must permanently function in the presence of a student.
We could not ask the students who were busy in their exam period – and writing exams every three days – to miss entire evenings so as to attend the Ethics Committee meetings.
Between February 11 – March 11, the students of the Police Academy were completing their mandatory four-week internship, leaving no students in the Academy.
Beginning on March 11, the verification process was restarted and until March 28, that is, in a period of 17 days, six theses have been verified ”.
From a position in which they are correctly applying a provision of the Regulation of the University DEONTOLOGY and Ethics Committee, namely the presence of the two students in the Ethics Committee, the Academy management interprets the provisions of the regulation under which the commission acts.
The verification of a doctoral thesis by the Ethics Committee involves genuinely simple steps: one of the 12 members of the commission is called an analysis commission, made up of at least three people.
Nowhere in the Rules of Ethics Commission does it write that any student must be part of this Review Committee.
Further, the Analysis Committee researches a thesis and prepares a report. Subsequently, the report of the Review Committee is subject to the approval of the Ethics Committee, which takes its decisions in plenary sessions. When plenary sittings cannot be held, the vote may be granted remotely, electronically.
All these provisions included in the Operating Regulation of the Ethics Commission dismantle the justifications of Rector Marcoci.
During the time the students were in session or in practice, the Review Boards could work very well, because nowhere does it write that they should include any student.
Further, the final vote expressed by all members of the Ethics Committee could be granted by students also at a distance, as provided in the regulation.
In a statement to PressOne, the president of the National Alliance of Student Organizations, Petrișor Laurențiu Țucă, indirectly confirms the bad will of the Police Academy: