Saturday, December 22, 2012

Share and share alike

Laborjournal and the local newspaper Wochenblatt report that the University of Regensburg has rescinded the doctorate of a dentist who had submitted a dissertation that was essentially that of her husband's.

The story begins with a organ transplantation scandal that broke in Germany in mid-2012.  Apparently, in 2010 and 2011 patient data was manipulated in order to enable certain patients to jump the queue for receiving an organ, as the weekly Zeit reports, for example many persons from Italy. The liver transplantation specialist from the University of Göttingen, Aiman Obed, was in the middle of this scandal, stepping down from the university at the end of 2011.

Obed had submitted his thesis on liver cancer to the University of Regensburg in 2004. His wife, Manal, is a dentist and had submitted her thesis to the same advisors on the same topic in 2006, although liver cancer is quite an unusual topic for a dentist. According to the news weekly Focus, the dissertations are not word-for-word copies, but have a similar structure, strikingly similar data, identical graphs, and even some of the same spelling and grammar errors. Focus obtained the theses and offer them as pdfs for others to check. Laborjournal published an editorial in October 2012 comparing a number of passages from the two dissertations.

Focus reported that a letter from Manal O. had been sent to the medical faculty of the university stating that she had plagiarized her dissertation and announcing that she would "return" her doctorate. Her lawyer insisted that she did not write the letter, but the university began investigations, as reported by the local Wochenblatt.

Laborjournal points out that there is no news on whether the university will be taking action against the advisors for the two theses. Since both are still active, Hans-Jürgen S. as a director of an institute for medicine at the University of Regensburg and Bernhard K. at the Mannheim Clinic at the University of Heidelberg, the question does arise as to how they are to be permitted to continue advising doctoral students. Although, when one looks at other medical theses from the University of Heidelberg, for example the case documented on VroniPlag Wiki of a doctoral thesis copying extensively from the habilitation of her doctoral advisor, it seems that quite a number of doctorates in medicine in Germany do not have anything to do with good scientific practice.
FORSCHUNG UND TECHNIK, MEDIZIN: Herr und Frau Doktor - weiter lesen auf FOCUS Online:

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