Law to tackle cheats

March 17, 2006

Sweden's education ministry is drawing up plans that would effectively force universities and colleges of higher education to investigate every allegation of cheating by academic staff.

The Government has acted because a number of high-profile cases have been brought to public attention in recent years in which top researchers have falsified their research or plagiarised previous studies.

Sources close to Leif Pagrotsky, the Minister for Education, Research and Culture, suggest that the Government is considering setting up an independent authority to investigate alleged cheating. This is something the Swedish Research Council called for last year.

"We need to have a system that maintains the public's confidence (in university research)," Par Omling, general director of the council, said.

"Every suspected case must be taken extremely seriously and thoroughly investigated to safeguard (our) reputation."

Sigbrit Franke, head of the National Agency for Higher Education, reportedly favours the creation of an independent authority to investigate allegations of cheating.

In an interview with daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter , Professor Franke says that the Government is merely looking to legislate a process already in place, as universities already do much to ensure the quality of their research.

"All allegations must be investigated immediately," says Professor Franke.

"It is necessary to establish whether or not any cheating has taken place and to clear a suspected researcher's name if allegations are unfounded."

What powers a new independent authority would have is uncertain, but the Government is expected to announce its decision this month. At present, it remains up to individual universities to decide how to deal with researchers suspected of cheating.

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