Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A curious article about law doctorates

The online journal of law at the Humboldt University of Berlin published an article in their fourth issue this year: Der juristische Doktortitel (The law doctoral title). The authors are listed as Prof. Dr. Rainer Schröder / Dr. Angela Klopsch.

VroniPlag Wiki/ GuttenPlag Wiki researchers noted the article, that also mentions the group, and commented on May 10, 2012, that a portion of the article is taken verbatim with a few changes from an article that appeared in the daily Die Welt on June 20, 2011, written by someone that is not listed as an author.

The blog jurabilis discussed this on May 11, 2012 and included links to visualizations of the plagiarism (1 - 2). Without a comment, the article suddenly obtained a * in the author list, with the star listing names of people who worked on the article. Quotation marks were also placed around the verbatim parts - but the changes that were made were not made clear, so they are now marked as being part of the quotation, which is not the case.

Today, Rainer Schröder published a comment on his home page about the situation. It seems the editor (perhaps Word?) is at fault. They were using change mode while writing, had lots of diagrams and tables (the statistical material is really interesting), and that crashed a lot. It seems, that when the editor crashes, it takes the quotation marks with it. This is a rather feeble excuse, and not one I would accept from students. If we are using modern technology, we have to learn how to make notes and how to reference texts properly.

And maybe disable CTRL+C CTRL+V while writing?


  1. Certainly embarrassing to "forget" an author, especially if one is writing about plagiarism. But the explanation makes sense, considering they are a couple as noted in the comment. At least give him credit for dealing with the situation in a good and timely manner.

  2. When I am reading papers, sometimes I feel uncomfortable for my bias: I really tend to stamp papers not written in LaTeX as bad papers and their authors as bad researchers. In this case, however, this simple method seems to be OK ...