While discussing the thesis one should keep in mind that it was not common to check dissertations [for plagiarism] with technical tools in 2006 and it is still not common today. In addition, the technical tools available in 2006 were barely able to detect plagiarism. Plagiarism software [sic] as well as other methods were not as highly developed as they are today. Even Google did not have the finely tuned searching methods as they do today. In particular, software that works with legal texts are still being developed. In the interests of all participants there will surely be technical examinations done on dissertations as well before [they are read by the examiners] (The entire text can be found at the FAZ site in German)After a good laugh I recovered enough to look up my first paper on plagiarism detection that was published in a real journal: "Kein Kavaliersdelikt: Wie man Plagiate entdeckt und was dagegen getan werden muß." Forschung & Lehre, 6/2003, S. 307-308. (Not a trivial offense - how to discover plagiarism and what to do about it). This magazine is the monthly publication of the association of university professors, Hochschulverband, and is widely read in German universites. And this was published way before zu Guttenberg handed in.
Google worked fine in 2003 for discovering plagiarism. Why, I even found plagiarism before the Internet was born! You notice the different styles while reading it.
This puts a rather bad light on the situation in Bayreuth. Did they really not know that the other universities were using Internet and software? Sure, the software doesn't pick up much. But let's assume they took a good sample, let's say 10 pages. With the current tally being 75% of all pages are plagiarized, that would mean that 7 of these 10 pages would contain plagiarism. Now, the software is only partially useful and only finds about 60-70 % of the plagiarism. So let's assume that out of 10 pages tested, 3 came up plagiarized - and plagiarized big time. Shouldn't that ring a bell and have a more intense investigation get started?
The comments on the newspaper web pages are caustic at best. This did a great disservice to science at large, demonstrating that this corner of the scientific world has remained blissfully unaware of what is going on around them.
I used a metaphor in a letter this morning: the entire Guttenberg affair has lifted the corner of the rug under which German academics have been sweeping their academic misconduct for ages. It is time to pull the rug out from under them, smack it clean and hose it down.