Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Czech ministers resigned after plagiarism charges

From the monthly bulletin of the European Network of Academic Integrity:

Czech Ministers Resigned Because of Plagiarism

At the beginning of July, two ministers of freshly appointed Czech government resigned because of plagiarism in their final theses.

The first of them, Taťána Malá appointed as Minister of justice, was accused of plagiarism in her two master theses, which contained parts identical with older theses of other authors that weren't acknowledged at all. Malá defended her first master thesis (on rabbit breading) at the Faculty of AgriSciences, Mendel University in Brno in 2005 copying more than 12 pages in theoretical part from an older thesis. She claimed that the extent was too little to be considered as plagiarism. In her opinion, plagiarism starts at 40-50%. She resigned after strong pressure from media and academic community only 13 days after she was appointed. The details are available here.
The second case was bachelor thesis of Minister of labour and social affairs Petr Krčál. Almost three quarters of his thesis were copied from other sources without proper acknowledgement. Also Krčál resigned after media pressure, but claiming not to feel guilty. You can read more details here.

Also master thesis of Minister of defence Lubomír Metnar was suspicious – it contained parts identical with a book, there were no in-text citations, but the book was correctly referenced in the bibliography. Hence it wasn't a typical case of plagiarism, which was also later confirmed by the University of Ostrava. The minister publicly apologized for his mistake, did not resigned. Details are available here.

Text which is identical to a source but not marked in-text and only referenced in the bibliography is still plagiarism, in my opinion. Text-reuse needs to clearly mark the beginning and the end of the text reproduced or summarized, with a correct in-text reference given. The excuse given (follow the link) also rests on lack of intent, which is something quite difficult to actually prove or dis-prove.

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