Monday, January 29, 2007

Plagiarism in Austria

Stefan Weber, an Austrian media scholar, has been trying to fight plagiarism in Austria since he discovered his own doctoral thesis published in part by someone else in Germany. That case, at the University of Tübingen, ended up in the plagiarist losing his doctoral title (good, that - it was the department the current pope used to teach at, would have been a feeding frenzy for the press if they had not done the right thing).

Since then Weber has spent 1 1/2 years investigating theses in Austria (which are published online these days) finding, he says, many cases of plagiarism. He has tried to get publicity for this problem, as the universities play it down ("bad quoting", not plagiarism), and has used the tabloid press for this, they are always interested in a good row. This does not amuse the very conservative university administrations. They seem to prefer to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

Weber writes that he is now giving up. He has been publically ridiculed for pointing a finger at the mess, people even suggesting that maybe *his* doctorate needs revoking for stirring up the waters, and called all sorts of names. Only the University of Vienna seems to have any sort of useful policy in place, he says, actually removing theses in dispute from the Internet until it is cleared up. The other schools try and ignore Weber, he accuses.

Mighty strange place, Austria.

1 comment:

  1. As a follow up to this post, here is an interesting "plagiarism" Weber has found at the University in Vienna:
    The online paper is entitled "Das schriftliche Plagiat - Zum Plagiat in der Literatur und in der Wissenschaft", Plagiarism in Writing: Literature and Science.

    His beef is that the students write "vgl" and then give the link to my E-Learning unit on plagiarism, "Fremde Federn Finden", and then use verbatim quotes without quote marks. Okay, bad.

    But worse is, that my text is under a specific copyright, the Free Document License. Anyone can use the text, if the give the proper credit, include the copyright, AND put their derivitave work under the same copyright. This has not been done (too complicated to figure out?). It's actually very easy - either use quotemarks, or respect the copyright.

    I must say, I am a bit more amused than angry to find this.


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