Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Düsseldorf Rescinds Doctorate of Education Minister Schavan

The dean of the Arts and Humanities faculty of the University of Düsseldorf announced on the evening of February 5, 2013, that the faculty board voted 13:2 that the dissertation of Annette Schavan is a plagiarism. They also voted 12:2:1 to rescind her doctorate.

There will be a flurry of press reports coming tomorrow, as Schavan is the Minister of Education and Research in Germany.  Since her first academic degree was the doctorate, she now only has a high school diploma (Abitur). She can take the university to court within the next four weeks, if she chooses.

I will report more on the situation as it develops. The documentation of the plagiarism can be found at schavanplag. Current information from : Tagesschau - Spiegel - Süddeutsche Zeitung. Schavan's lawyers have announced that they will sue the university, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The lawyers have published their reasoning for suing.  They are mainly stating that information leaked out about the process, and that their suggestion of obtaining a second opinion was not followed [although one could see the schavanplag blog as a first opinion and the university one as a second opinion]. And she had so many pages and footnotes, that bit of plagiarism is not bad and was not intentional. It seems to me that they are not aware of the legal cases on plagiarism that determined just the opposite: Even a bit of plagiarism is not acceptable in a doctorate.


  1. I can't see this lawsuit succeeding. The university already presented a legal opinion stating that its proceedings were formally correct, and nobody has made a case to the opposite. Also, while Schavan's omissions of proper attribution are of course on a much smaller scale than Guttenberg's, they are still clearly widespread and systematic enough to make this decision maybe not an inevitable, but a defensible one.

  2. I don't, either. The legal expertise (http://www.uni-duesseldorf.de/home/fileadmin/redaktion/Oeffentliche_Medien/Presse/Pressemeldungen/Bilder/Gutachten.pdf) is quite thorough, the press notice by the lawyers appears to be grasping at straws.

    However, by filing suit she then keeps her title until a judge decides the case. One can only hope that for a change justice is swift.

  3. Well, I'm just floored by the level of scandal created by someone faking their doctorate here. Now, I actually do have a doctorate, for which I slaved, so I disapprove of Annette Schavan taking the shortcut to power that she did. But by comparison to American politicians--going after Iraqi oil, selling arms to people to whom they have no business selling them, helping the rich get richer while the poor become destitute--this woman seems a saint. Was she good at her job? That's my criteria. Meanwhile, I wonder whether some of you very knowledgeable folks out there could help me deal with the principal of my kid's school--who is forcing what he calls "Ganztag" down parental throats. I wrote about this on my blog. www.thecriticalmom.com
    Here's the link: http://www.thecriticalmom.com/2012/09/the-critical-mom-and-criticized.html


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