Principles of academic ethics form before starting to study in a higher education and research institution

On 22 August, the Ombudswoman Loreta Tauginienė presented to the participants of the conference “Being a human among human beings” held by the Language Centre of State Institutions the insights related to ethical infrastructure in 32 gymnasiums of Vilnius. The insights were prepared on the basis of a study conducted in 2018 together with Inga Gaižauskaitė, Head of the Institute of Sociology of the Lithuanian Center for Social Research. The study analysed ethical behaviour-promoting provisions in internal documents of the gymnasiums, such as student progress and achievement evaluation procedures, student conduct rules (including codes of ethics and internal rules), descriptions of written assignments (e.g., project, creative-research, theses) and library rules.

A third of gymnasiums in Vilnius were observed to have descriptions of papers. However, there were very rare cases where students were asked to ensure that written papers raise no doubt as to their authorship referring to the Law on Copyright and Related Rights of the Republic of Lithuania. One gymnasium in Vilnius only provided for “proper use of sources” as one of the criteria for written assignments subject to evaluation.

It should also be noted that that management processes are underdeveloped mainly due to the uncertainty of the responsibilities of school community members (especially administration, teachers and students) in promoting ethical behaviour.

The Ombudswoman emphasized that literacy habits develop when studying at progymnasiums and gymnasiums, where pupils start getting first writing assignments, rather than in higher education and research institutions. Higher education and research institutions, therefore, often face manifestations of student dishonesty as a consequence of poorly developed literacy skills, the causes of which should be addressed much earlier, at pre-university level. The Ombudswoman also emphasized that the quality of learning / teaching / studies and its management are inseparable from the formation of basic provisions of ethics.