Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who stole from whom?

Hermann Horstkotte reports on Spiegel Online about a strange plagiarism case.
A young woman was working on her doctorate in law at the RWTH Aachen. Since there is no law faculty there, she had to submit her doctorate to the University of Bonn. But she did not submit until after she came back from an extended maternity leave.
Her professor in Aachen sent his glowing expertise on her thesis to the Bonn colleague, who, while reading the thesis, discovered that he had read that before. Indeed, the colleague from Aachen had published another volume of his "Handbuch für Europarecht" during her maternity leave. 40 pages of this volume are identical to the thesis submitted.
Now we have the chicken and the egg problem: did the professor take the text from his doctoral student? Did she take the text from the handbook? Did both write the text together?
Aachen investigated the case and determined, that they could not determine who was the original author. They note that the professor should have noticed in his expertise that there was a large portion that matched his recent book. He agrees that this is a lapse on his part.
The University of Bonn now has to decide how to proceed with the case.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Case Number 10

Another VroniPlag case hits the 10% level: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Scott

More details on the German professor who did her dissertation in Krakow, Poland, here: http://de.vroniplag.wikia.com/wiki/Cs

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Update on Plagiarism in Germany

I do apologize to my English-speaking readers that I have not been writing the past few weeks. It is getting quite difficult to follow what is going on without a scorecard, even I get confused at times. And the media barrage has not let up, as there are new candidates up every few days. So here is my modest attempt to get you up to date:
  • Mathematics professor at the University of Potsdam censured
    This blog reported in May 2010 on the plagiarism dispute between Gumm and Denecke. The University of Potsdam has just revoked the rights that the now-retired Denecke had to still supervise dissertations, and he is to remove the publication from his CV, and withdraw the book from the market.
  • Veronica Sass
    Doctorate rescinded by the University of Konstanz
  • Matthias Pröfrock
    Doctorate rescinded by the University of Tübingen
  • Silvana Koch-Mehrin
    Doctorate rescinded by the University of Heidelberg, she has legally challenged the decision
  • Georgios Chatzimarkakis
    Doctorate rescinded by the University of Bonn
  • Bijan Djir-Sarai
    Plagiarism level is currently at 60% of the pages, the University of Cologne is investigating
  • Uwe Brinkmann
    Doctorate rescinded by the University of Hamburg
  • Margarita Mathiopoulos
    Plagiarism level is currently at 46 % of the pages, the University of Bonn is investigating
  • Siegfried Haller
    Plagiarism level is currently at 21 % of the pages, the University of Halle-Wittenberg is investigating
  • Jürgen Goldschmidt
    is the most recent member of the club, clocking in at a plagiarism level of 10% of the pages, the Technical University of Berlin is investigating. The entire nation is having a good laugh at his footnoting technique, which includes
    "Tagesschau vom 02.12.2004" (on page 42 of the dissertation), "WDR vom 24.03.2007" (on page 51), and best of all "Super Illu 17/2005" (on page 45). SUPERillu is a weekly family magazine often read in Eastern Germany, leading Spiegel Online to headline "Magna cum Super-Illu". Mr. Goldschmidt tried to delete two sites that he runs on the topic of his dissertation, as they contained the sources for some of the plagiarism. Luckily, the Internet Archive had kept a copy for posterity.
  • Bernd Althusmann
    The weekly newspaper Die Zeit hired investigators to look into the dissertation of the minister of education of Lower Saxony, currently the speaker for the national committee on education. The calls for him to step down are getting louder and louder.
  • Roland Wöller
    The dissertation of the minister of education from Saxony was investigated in 2008, when it was determined that he had incorporated large portions of a master's thesis by another student into his work without proper attribution. The University of Dresden sent him a sharp letter reprimanding him and requesting that he "fix the footnotes" for future editions of the book, but they did not rescind his dissertation at the time. The thesis is being re-investigated by people outside of VroniPlag. Update: The media is trying to make a scandal out of this, as there is nothing else to report on. Flurfunk debunks the scandal.
As you can see, the weather has been horrible this summer in Germany, so people are learning how to find dissertations and check and document the sources used. And there appears to be quite a lot to find, all over the republic.

Let me close this blog post with a quote from Gerhard Fröhlich, University of Linz, from an interview in the online Journal of Unsolved Questions:
Self control mechanisms are a myth in science to avoid any serious external control. I have studied all fraud affairs precisely and in almost every case anonymous allegations coupled with mass media outrage – in most recent years with an interim period of outrage on the internet – were necessary before the institutions themselves agreed to take action.