OPTIMA - Open‌ ‌Practices,‌ ‌Transparency‌ ‌and‌ ‌Integrity‌ ‌for‌ ‌Modern‌ ‌Academia

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

OPTIMA aims at improving the quality of higher education in Ukraine by increasing the level of academic integrity through bringing open practices and transparency to relevant content and services, as well as through modernisation and internationalization of Ukrainian HEIs. OPTIMA will introduce open practices as a quality assurance (QA) process and IT solutions and international virtual community as a quality assurance mechanism.

The system of higher education (HE) in Ukraine is characterized by serious deficiencies, such as inefficient quality assurance (QA) and low levels of internationalization, which negatively affect educational attainment and reduce the country’s general potential. At the same time, another acute problem currently facing the country’s HE system is caused by the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. In 2014 the concept of “displaced higher education institutions” emerged as since the beginning of hostilities in the Donbass region, 18 higher education institutions (HEIs) have been moved from the temporarily ceased territories. The displaced HEIs managed to resume the educational process and now continue to educate over 40,000 students and employ about 3,500 academic staff.
However, despite numerous achievements, problems of quality and integrity remain in the Ukrainian education system, harming society and economy. Misconduct in HE, when students do not properly represent their acquired knowledge because of cheating, plagiarism and ghostwriting, is one of the main problems of the Ukrainian education system. There is, then, a need for development and implementation of innovative QA mechanisms built on academic integrity culture.
Transparency is at the core of Open Science (OS) which has gained increasing EU-level recognition and popularity in recent years. OS is not an end but a means to support better quality science, increased international collaboration and integrity. These goals are highly relevant to Ukrainian HEIs and can be effectively applied in the wider academic context through fostering research integrity culture and practices among academic staff, students and administrators in order to improve education quality. We conclude that the “OS vacuum” should be treated not as a failure, but as an opportunity to use the constantly improving European OS best practices to improve the situation in Ukraine. So, the proposed strategy is the introduction of more open and transparent practices leading to increased academic integrity leading to improved education quality.

Introducing Open Peer Review (OPR) has the biggest potential in Ukraine as it brings transparency to the already familiar practice of academic evaluation and provides hands-on learning opportunities for early career researchers, helping to build new skills under collective mentorship of international experts. Hence, OPTIMA will develop and implement an online OPR platform for academic conferences and build an international virtual community of peer reviewers and researchers on the base of it. Combined with general and subject-specific OS subjects to be introduced in the partner HEIs for Master students and PhD candidates as well as a general open online course, OPTIMA’s OPR platform is intended to give our target universities (and Ukrainian HE system in general) a much needed impetus for change towards openness and integrity.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date15/01/2114/01/24