Sunday, November 4, 2012

Medical Triple Header

It was a busy Friday afternoon on the VroniPlag Wiki site. Even though there are still fragments still awaiting a second opinion, three German medical dissertations were named on the home page:
  • #31:, clocking in with just 60 pages, already has 53 % of those pages documented with text parallels. Eleven of those pages contain more than 75 %. The thesis was submitted to the medical department of the University of Freiburg/Breisgau in 2009, defended in 2010, and published in 2011. 
  • #32:, is a veterinary thesis submitted to the  Tiermedizinische Hochschule Hannover in 2007, "only" has text parallels on 28 % of the pages, but there are some complete pages that are copied (Page 13 and Page 33) as well as extensive copying from the Wikipedia and a number of other dissertations submitted in veterinary medicine both at the Hannover school as well as other schools.   
  • #33:, is a medical thesis submitted to the University of Tübingen in 2001. There are text parallels on  21 % of the pages, and it seems that this thesis was also the basis of some of the plagiarism in Case #32. Most of the text parallels found to date in this thesis are from older dissertations published in the year 2000.
Should we bother documenting plagiarism in medical theses? The discussion rages on behind the scenes. A medical doctorate is just not the same level of work as a doctorate in other fields. I think the German universities need to switch to a more honest M.D. degree that they award (so they can still call themselves "Doktor"), but to quit the pretense of doing research. It appears that fragments of text, much like DNA or RNA, splits apart and recombines with other texts, with a few different numbers thrown in here or there. 

I've written to the universities in question, but I'm not holding my breath. There is a lot of feet-dragging going on in investigating the accusations of plagiarism.

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