Thursday, June 21, 2012

Next politician accused of plagiarism: Romanian PM

Nature reports that there has been a substantial accusation of plagiarism in the dissertation of the Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Just recently, the Minister of Education had to resign about a month ago because his dissertation was a plagiarism. Do scroll down to the update — the press office of the Romanian government set a misspelled nastygram to Nature, that they have published in all it's glory, accusing Nature of playing politics.

According to Nature, the Ethics Council that is still working on preparing a report on the plagiarism in the dissertation of the Minister of Education was sacked a few days ago.

Here is a link to the plagiarism documentation: http://media.tvrinfo.ro/other/201206/oglinda-vp-2003-teza_94614100.pdf (in Romanian, but the copying is clear if these are indeed true copies of both thesis and sources).

Update 2012-07-03: Found an Austrian article on the topic "Von Guttenberg zu Ponta". Apparently Ponta had told El Pais that he would step down if his thesis was found to be plagiarized, and the committee did indeed determine that, but the committee was expanded from 21 to 45 people, so the legality of the determination is currently being disputed. Personally, I find all this legal maneuvering quite distasteful. This is a scientific problem - politics only needs to determine if it wants to keep a plagiarist on board, but the determination of plagiarism should be solidly in the hands of the university.

3 comments:

  1. I haven't seen anybody yet to dispute the authenticity of the documents. I think it is safe to assume they're true to the originals.

    The PM's defence so far (besides playing it down as a political feud) seems to be that the academic rules of conduct at the time he got his PhD did not require him to give proper references. I haven't seen an official position from the Bucharest University yet. Curiously some paragraphs in the PM's dissertation do use proper attribution and quotation marks.

    Reportedly the PM declared he was not big on titles and would be prepared to give up his PhD title. He categorically refused to resign as PM though, no matter what.

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  2. If anyone is interested to see Ponta's original dissertation in PDF file, you can follow this link: http://historia.ro/adhfiles/1.pdf

    The file is about 170 MB and can be searched by anyone interested to have his/her own opinion. Most of his references are proper quoted in his work, except three sources highlighted with yellow, green and blue on his original document.

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  3. Florin, thanks for the very useful link. I've been actually looking for this document for some time now.

    It's good to know that quoting standards were followed, occasionally.

    This also rules out the theory that the side-by-side comparison was fraudulent (in the sense that they contained material not in the originals). I also believe that the following links contain the original papers from which Mr Ponta plagiarized:

    http://historia.ro/adhfiles/2.pdf
    http://historia.ro/adhfiles/3.pdf
    http://historia.ro/adhfiles/4.pdf

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