Photo courtesy of ORCA.

Most University of Prishtina professors hold unjustified academic ranks, report says

After examining the resumes of 481 professors, ORCA found a significant presence of publications in predatory journals and unjustified academic advancements.

A new report by Kosovo higher education watchdog ORCA claims that 72 per cent of professors at the University of Prishtina do not meet the minimum criteria to justify their academic ranks. Meanwhile, from 2004-2017, a little over one fourth of University of Prishtina professors published in dubious or predatory journals.

Executive Director Rron Gjinovci said that when Rector Ibrahim Gashi resigned in 2014 after he was found to have published in a fraudulent journal to advance his credentials, he wanted to address the underlying issues in Kosovo’s academic advancement system.

At the publishing event for “Academic Integrity of Professors of the University of Prishtina,” he said ORCA conducted this research because of the “lack of transparent and credible data about the scientific work of the professors in Kosovo’s public universities.”

American professor and librarian Jeffrey Beall, who is an expert on predatory journals, said that since 2012, the phenomenon of predatory journals has grown globally.

“The world of higher education was not prepared for predatory publishers,” he said at ORCA’s report launch, explaining a system of unstable publishing, cheap and easy journals, and corrupt financial transactions between authors and publishers.

At least 28 per cent of University of Prishtina professors have published once or more in one of 134 journals identified as dubious or predatory.

ORCA identified these journals by referencing the principles of transparency and best practices of scholarly publishing used by several scientific publishers, as well as research by Jeffrey Beall, who looks at factors such as editorial staff and formatting.

ORCA reviewed the CVs of 481 academic staff across 12 faculties, found on the university’s webpage. ORCA only reviewed the CVs of ranking professors: assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors.

According to the University of Prishtina Statute, an academic must have at least one paper published in an international journal to advance to an assistant professor; at least three papers to be promoted to associate professor; and at least five to be a full, tenured professor. According to ORCA, there are 122 tenured professors who did not meet the minimum criteria.

At the report launch, Fehmi Hysenaj, the Chief of Cabinet for Education Minister Shyqiri Bytyqi, said that while academic cheating is a global trend, in Kosovo, it is becoming a “common phenomenon.”

“This is not only seen with students trying to plagiarize, but unfortunately we see academic staff plagiarizing and publishing in fictive journals… this is jeopardizing academic integrity to the point of losing trust in the system,” he said, adding that the ministry looks to address these issues, as well as the system of academic advancements, in the draft law on higher education.

Beall said that he hopes ORCA’s research will expose the issue of predatory journals in Kosovo.

“One thing that needs to be done is increase the awareness of the problem, and alert researchers to the problem so that they can avoid submitting their works to these journals,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of articles required for associate professors and full professors.

05/12/2017 - 15:27

05 December 2017 - 15:27

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.