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“Let Me Write a Dissertation for You: Faculty Misconduct, Corruption and Doctoral Degree Fraud in Ukraine”
September 13, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
Speaker: Ararat Osipian, Associate Researcher, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This study aims to investigate corruption in doctoral education. The object of study here is Ukraine, a highly corrupted former Soviet republic. Specifically, this study researches the market of writing and defending doctoral dissertations, also known as the dissertations market. This study identifies providers of the service, as well as types of services they offer, and the prices they charge. A sample of forty six private, for-profit firms that offer dissertations for sale was identified and analyzed. Such “dissertations for order” services are accompanied by other services that provide the necessary requirements for a doctorate. University faculty play three distinct roles in this business, including that of customers, ghost-writers, and gatekeepers. This study concludes that fighting the corrupt practice of ghost-written dissertations with legal means is unlikely to bring any drastic changes, for as long as there is demand for such services, there will be supply. This paper recommends fundamental changes, including reformatting the old Soviet system of doctoral degrees into US-type PhD programs, introducing substantial advanced doctoral-level coursework, attracting holders of foreign PhDs from top world class universities to teach in such programs, and decentralizing the doctoral education system to promote true university autonomy.
Ararat Osipian is a Fellow of the Institute of International Education and Associate at the Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a PhD in Leadership and Policy Studies from Vanderbilt University, where he came as a US Department of State fellowship. He is the author of The Political Economy of Corporate Raiding in Russia (Routledge, 2018) and The Impact of Human Capital on Economic Growth: A Case Study in Post-Soviet Ukraine, 1989-2009 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Osipian studies corruption globally.