Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 73–91 | Cite as

Incongruences of Ethical and Legal Norms in Academia: the Case on Revocation of Doctoral Degrees

  • Loreta TauginienėEmail author
  • Vaidas Jurkevičius


In the academic setting as in any organization legal norms prevail and are assumed to be congruent with ethical norms. Nevertheless, there are cases when the ratio of ethical and legal norms is inadequate and disproportional, especially those dealing with socially responsible decisions in academia. For this reason, the aim here is to analyse incongruences of ethical and legal norms related to the revocation of doctoral degrees in Lithuania, illustrated with examples of deviant behaviour by academic degree holders in terms of decisions of the courts and the ombudsman for academic ethics. Lithuania, being a Member State of the European Union, is currently facing the challenge of implementing newly-adopted laws related to the revocation of doctoral degrees. Accordingly, data were collected from available online official sources to gain more comprehensive evidence, and then analysed using the inductive approach of qualitative content analysis. Research findings show that there is still a thin line between ethical and legal norms, and this line fluctuates depending on nuanced considerations. This is to say that it is still problematical to dress ethical principles in legal clothing.


Ethical norms Legal norms Academia Revocation Doctoral degree 



For providing comments on the manuscript, we thank Frank den Hond, Ehrnrooth Professor of Management and Organization at Hanken Business School, Finland. His comments were very helpful for further improvement of the manuscript. Also, we thank reviewers for their valuable comments for improvement of this paper.


  1. Bakker, J. I. (2006). Out of the Clash of Hermeneutic Rules Comes Ethical Decision Making: But Does It? Journal of Academic Ethics, 4, 11–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. F. (1996). Self-Regulation Failure: An Overview. Psychological Inquiry, 7(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bengtsson, M. (2016). How to plan and perform a qualitative study using content analysis. Nursing Plus Open, 2, 8–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruhn, J. G. (2008). Value Dissonance and Ethics Failure in Academia: A Causal Connection? Journal of Academic Ethics, 6, 16–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruhn, J. G., Zajac, G., Al-Kazemi, A. A., & Prescott, L. D. (2002). Moral Positions and Academic Conduct: Parameters of Tolerance for Ethics Failure. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(4), 461–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Byrom, J. E. (2012). To Love and Die in Dixon: An Argument for Stricter Judicial Review in Cases of Academic Misconduct. The Review of Litigation, 31(1), 147–171.Google Scholar
  7. Callan, V. J. (1992). Predicting ethical values and trading needs in codes of ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(10), 761–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carroll, A. B. (1987). In Search of the Moral Manager. Business Horizons, 30(2), 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang, K. (2002). Panel Says Bell Labs Scientist Faked Discoveries in Physics. The New York Times, September, 26, 2002 . Accessed 30 July 2015 Google Scholar
  10. Cho, Y. J., & Lee, E.-H. (2014). Reducing Confusion about Grounded Theory and Qualitative Content Analysis: Similarities and Differences. The Qualitative Report, 19(64), 1–20.Google Scholar
  11. Cleek, M. A., & Leonard, S. L. (1998). Can corporate codes of ethics influence behaviour? Journal of Business Ethics, 17(9), 619–630.Google Scholar
  12. Corlett, J. A. (2005). The good professor. Journal of Academic Ethics, 3(1), 27–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Court notice on the Judgement of the District Court of Vilnius City on 28 September 2015 (civil case No. 2–4273-910/2015). Available in Lithuanian at: Accessed 16 March 2016.
  14. Elo, S., & Kyngäs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(1), 107–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fink, M., Harms, R., & Hatak, I. (2012). Nanotechnology and Ethics: The Role of Regulation Versus Self-Commitment in Shaping Researchers’ Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 109, 569–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fisher, C. (2001). Managers’ perceptions of ethical codes: dialectics and dynamics. Business Ethics: A European Review, 10(2), 145–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodstein, D. (2002). Scientific misconduct. Academe, 88(1), 28–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haggerty, K. D. (2004). Ethics Creep: Governing Social Science Research in the Name of Ethics. Qualitative Sociology, 27(4), 391–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Honig, B., & Bedi, A. (2012). The Fox in the Hen House: A Critical Examination of Plagiarism among Members of the Academy of Management. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(1), 101–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jha, A. (2012). False positives: fraud and misconduct are threatening scientific research. The Guardian, September 13, 2012. Accessed 30 July 2015.Google Scholar
  22. Judgement of first instance court of Kaunas City by 10 April 2014 (civil case No. 2–2558-773/2014). Available in Lithuanian at: Accessed 3 February 2016.
  23. Judgement of the Constitutional Court on 22 December 2011 (case No. 13/2010–140/2010). Available in Lithuanian at: Accessed 2 February 2016.
  24. Judgement of the first instance court of Vilnius City by 19 December 2013 (criminal case No. 1–196-276/2013). Available in Lithuanian at: Accessed 3 February 2016.
  25. Jurkevičius, V. (2012). Teisinė atsakomybė. In R. Bublienė, R. Cibulskienė, S. Jakaitis, V. Jurkevičius, V. Keršulienė, J. Matulienė, V. Nedzinskaitė, E. Radzevičius, D. Romaškevičienė, H. Šinkūnas, A. Rutkauskas, E. Trinkūnienė, & R. Varno (Eds.), Teisės pagrindai (pp. 248–285). Vilnius: Technika.Google Scholar
  26. Kennedy, J. E. (2005). Grey Matter: Ambiguities and Complexities of Ethics in Research. Journal of Academic Ethics, 3, 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kintisch, E. (2005). Researcher Faces Prison for Fraud in NIH Grant Applications and Papers. Science, 307(5717), 1851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kondracki, N. L., Wellman, N. S., Fada, R. D., & Amundson, D. R. (2002). Content Analysis: Review of Methods and Their Applications in Nutrition Education. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 34(4), 224–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kučinskas, V. (2003). Vadovavimo etika. KU: Klaipėda.Google Scholar
  30. Kupferschmidt, K., & Vogel, G. (2013). Plagiarism Hunters Take Down Research Minister. Science, 339(6121), 747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Latourette, A. W. (2010). Plagiarism: Legal and Ethical Implications for the University. The Journal of College and University, 37(1), 1–91.Google Scholar
  32. Macintyre, A. (2007). After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. 3rd edition.Google Scholar
  33. Martin, J. (2014). Plagiarism Costs Degree for Senator. New York Times, 164(56651), A14.Google Scholar
  34. Mawdsley, R. D., & Cumming, J. J. (2008). Plagiarism litigation trends in the USA and Australia. Education and the Law, 20(3), 209–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Menzel, D. C. (2015). Research on ethics and integrity in public administration: moving forward, looking back. Public Integrity, 17, 343–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Morris, C. (Ed.) (1990). The great legal philosophers: Selected readings in jurisprudence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  37. Müller, M. J., Landsberg, B., & Ried, J. (2014). Fraud in science: a plea for a new culture in research. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68(4), 411–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nijhof, A., Wilderom, C., & Oost, M. (2012). Professional and institutional morality: building ethics programmes on the dual loyalty of academic professionals. Ethics and Education, 7(1), 91–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nimmer, D. (2004). The moral imperative against academic plagiarism (without a moral right against reverse passing off). DePaul Law Review, 54(1), 1–77.Google Scholar
  40. Novelskaitė, A., & Pučėtaitė, R. (2012). Mokslinių tyrimų etikos būklė Lietuvoje: Ką mano Lietuvos mokslo bendruomenė? Pirminiai nacionalinės apklausos rezultatai. Socialinių mokslų studijos, 4(4), 1371–1395.Google Scholar
  41. Novelskaitė, A., & Pučėtaitė, R. (2015). Addressing Plagiarism through Formal and Informal Requirements in Scientific Journals: Empirical Findings from Journals Published in Lithuania. In Plagiarism Across Europe and Beyond 2015: conference proceedings, June 10–12, 2015, Brno, Czech Republic. Accessed 11 March 2016.
  42. Novelskaitė, A., Pučėtaitė, R., Lipnevič, A., Adomaitienė, R., Mikėnė, S., & Lapinaitė, L. (2015). Mokslinės veiklos etika Lietuvoje. Teorinės, empirinės ir praktinės apibrėžtys mokslinių tyrimų, akademinės autorystės, etikos vadybos ir kituose kontekstuose. Vilnius: LSTC.Google Scholar
  43. Painter-Morland, M. (2010). Questioning corporate codes of ethics. Business Ethics: A European Review, 19(3), 265–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pater, A., & van Gils, A. (2003). Stimulating ethical decision-making in a business context: effects of ethical and professional codes. European Management Journal, 21(6), 762–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Republic of Lithuania Law on Higher Education and Research (Law) (2009). Available in English at: Accessed 14 March 2016.
  46. Resolution No. 561 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania Amending Resolution No. 897 of the Government of 11 July 2001 Regarding the approval of regulations of doctoral studies (regulations) (passed on 12 may 2010). Available in Lithuanian at: Accessed 4 March 2016.
  47. Schwartz, M. (2000). Why ethical codes constitute an unconscionable regression. Journal of Business Ethics, 23(2), 173–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sendjaya, S. (2005). Morality and leadership: examining the ethics of transformational leadership. Journal of Academic Ethics, 3, 75–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sharp Paine, L. S. (2000). Does ethics pay? Business Ethics Quarterly, 10(1), 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sonfield, M. C. (2014). Academic plagiarism at the faculty level: legal versus ethical issues and a case study. Journal of Academic Ethics, 12, 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stearns, L. (1992). Copy wrong: plagiarism, process, property, and the law. California Law Review, 80(2), 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Steen, R. G., Casadevall, A., & Fang, F. C. (2013). Why has the number of scientific retractions increased? PloS One, 8(7), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tauginienė, L. (2013). Socialinė atsakomybė universiteto mokslinės veiklos valdyme. Doctoral Dissertation. Vilnius: Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania.Google Scholar
  54. Treviño, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2010). Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It Right. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 5th edition. Available at: Accessed 9 March 2016.
  55. Utting, P. (2000). Business Responsibility for Sustainable Development. Occasional Paper No. 2. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Sustainable Development (UNRISD).Google Scholar
  56. Vaišvila, A. (2000). Teisės teorija. Vilnius: Justitia.Google Scholar
  57. van den Hoonaard, W. C. (2003). Is anonymity an artifact in ethnographic research? Journal of Research Ethics, 1, 141–151.Google Scholar
  58. VU TVM sako nebeturinti galimybių siekti G. [K. – disguised by authors] diplomo anuliavimo [translation: VU TVM says having no possibility to seek annulment of G. K.’s [disguised by authors] diploma]. DELFI, March 23, 2011. Available in Lithuanian at: [disguised by authors]-diplomo-anuliavimo.d?id = 43491729. Accessed 2 December 2015.
  59. Wade, N. (2002). A new look at old data may discredit a theory on race. The New York Times, October 8, 2002. Accessed 30 July 2015.Google Scholar
  60. Wysocki Jr., B. (2005). As universities get billions in grants, some see abuses: Cornell doctor blows whistle over use of Federal Funds, alleging phantom studies. The Wall Street Journal, August, 16, 2005. Accessed 31 July 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mykolas Romeris UniversityVilniusLithuania

Personalised recommendations