Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Next up: Chatzi

The next German politician to be found with a large amount of plagiarism in his dissertation is Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a member of the European parliament for the German FDP.

Last week someone noticed that he had a similar CV to Ms. Koch-Mehrin, and found his dissertation online. Within 2 days people had found plagiarism on over 10% of the pages (the current amount is 37% of the pages). Chatzimarkakis responded with this gem on his homepage (boldface from me):
"Die jüngsten Debatten über die Doktorarbeiten deutscher Politiker haben auch mich für das Thema sensibilisiert. In der von mir 2000 verteidigten und auch online publizierten Promotion habe ich nach aktueller Prüfung folgende Zitierweisen verwendet:

* Zitate (teilweise) kursiv eingerückt und mit Anführungszeichen, ausgewiesen durch Fußnote;
* Zitate nicht kursiv, eingerückt und mit Anführungszeichen, ausgewiesen durch Fußnote;
* Zitate im Fließtext, nicht eingerückt und ohne Anführungszeichen, ausgewiesen durch Fußnote.

Dies schafft Raum für Spekulationen. Ich habe deshalb die Universität Bonn auf die von mir angewandte Zitationsweise explizit hingewiesen."

(The recent debates about the doctoral theses of German politicians have made me sensitive to the topic. In the thesis I defended in 2000 and which I published online I have reviewed and found the following types of quotes:

* Quotes (partially) in italics, indented and with quotation marks, with a footnote;
* Quotes not in italics, indented and with quotation marks, with a footnote;
* Quotes in the text, not indented and not with quotation marks, with a footnote.

This provides room for speculation. I have written to the University of Bonn and explained my quotation style to them.)

Quotes not marked? Stefan Weber blogs about this - after recovering his composure - and calls it "Freestyle" quoting. Here's a nice example of this "Freestyle" quoting.... and the apparent inability to use a spelling checker.

Chatzimarkakis defends himself in a German talk show in the evening, saying that this is the "normal" way to do quotes in science. There are no professors in the talk show to explain that this is not normal (I could have gone, but I was giving a talk in the library sciences department at the Humboldt University this evening). Chatzimarkakis complains of being put on the stocks, of being accused of something like Strauß-Kahn (although the cases are quite different - only CSK and the woman know, what really happened; we have documented plagiarism in Chatzimarkakis' thesis, anyone can check it). He talks and talks and changes the subject and then the talk show goes on with how men don't understand women and vice versa....

Far too many people see the work which we call "collaborative plagiarism documentation" as personal vendettas against politicians of a particular variety. But these are doctoral theses, they are published - and the sources are openly available. The documentation puts them in parallel, attempts to classify it, and asks the question: is this okay? It is open to the scrutiny - and commentary - of all. You don't have to have a title to participate, the main thing in the content and the work and not the person doing the work.

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