Friday, November 16, 2018

Slovakian politician in plagiarism scandal

A Slovakian politician, the Speaker of the Parliament, has been accused of having copied his JuDR doctoral thesis in law from five other sources, according to Slovak media. The Spectator and Tasr are both reporting in English on the case. A JuDR, a degree offered in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, is not equivalent to a PhD, it is sometimes called the "little doctoral degree".

It seems that when the accusations first arose, the politician put his thesis in the university library under embargo. When complaints arose, he then made it possible to see the thesis, but not to take pictures or copy it.

Strangely, some alleged sources appear to have gone missing. The Spectator reports:
Meanwhile, Comenius University announced that a doctoral dissertation with the same title and same number of pages is missing in its university archive. As Dennik N reported, it was defended only one year before D[...] defended his work at UMB. The last time someone borrowed it to study was 2011. The university started an investigation to find out where the dissertation could be.
Matej Bel University (UMB) in Banská Bystrica has set up a committee to investigate the allegations, but there are calls to have outside examiners be involved in this investigation, according the the Spectator.  According to Tasr, the opposition has called for D[...] to step down:
Leader of non-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia Ivan Stefunko noted that Hungary, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic are countries where ministers and a president have stepped down when mere suspicions of plagiarism occurred.
A cartoon ("How should I know what's in my work", according to Google Translate) can be found at Denník N, the newspaper which broke the story. They also have one image of a side-by-side comparison (in Slovakian). Even without knowing the language, it looks like this page is what is known as a "pawn sacrifice" [1]: There is a quotation in the middle with a reference number 8. Assuming this is referring to the source, one can see that the copy of the text continues after the quotation marks, and highly similar text is also found before the quotation.

[1] Lahusen, B. (2006). Goldene Zeiten – Anmerkungen zu Hans-Peter Schwintowski, Juristische Methodenlehre, UTB basics Recht und Wirtschaft, 2005. Kritische Justiz, 39, 398ff.