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Guttenberg accused of plagiarizing PhD thesis
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Guttenberg accused of plagiarizing PhD thesis

Published: 16 Feb 2011 10:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Feb 2011 10:40 GMT+01:00

Several points throughout the dissertation are “brazen plagiarism” and “a deceit,” Bremen law professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung after discovering the text parallels in what the paper called a “routine check” out of pure scientific interest.

An ombudsman at Guttenberg’s alma mater, the University of Bayreuth, is reportedly looking into the claims.

Guttenberg told the paper that the university was right to investigate the matter, but said he was not worried by it.

“I anticipate the result of the assessment there without concern,” he said. “I completed the work to the best of my knowledge and belief.”

The allegedly plagiarized passages make up several pages put together, the paper reported.

“The text duplications run through the entire work and through all sections,” Fischer-Lescano said.

Guttenberg allegedly failed to cite unchanged sections from a 2003 Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag article, as well as a 2004 Liechtenstein Institute lecture.

Other parts of the text also contain sections of texts cited in the bibliography, but without quotation. Still others are sourced in footnotes, but without quotation, the paper reported.

The conservative Bavarian Christian Social Democratic (CSU) politician submitted his thesis in 2006 and finished his doctoral studies in law with the highest distinction of summa cum laude in 2007, the paper said.

The thesis was published by Duncker & Humblot in 2009 under the title Verfassung und Verfassungsvertrag. Konstitutionelle Entwicklungsstufen in den USA und der EU, or "Constitution and Constitutional Treaties – Constitutional Steps of Development in the USA and the EU."

The work contains more than 1,000 footnotes and a bibliography nearly 50 pages long, but Guttenberg still allegedly neglected to use proper citation throughout the text, the paper said.

Bayreuth University ombudsman Diethelm Klippel, who was also on the review committee for Guttenberg’s thesis, told Süddeutsche Zeitung that the examination procedure for Guttenberg’s thesis was conducted correctly.

But if the suspicions of plagiarism are confirmed, Guttenberg could lose his doctoral title, the paper said.

The Local/ka

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Your comments about this article

11:41 February 16, 2011 by theartofwar
So what? We all do it as one form or the other. Those who say they didn't do it they are full of craps.
11:59 February 16, 2011 by ado1000
Plagarism is everywhere in German Universities. I was shocked when I first moved here.
12:05 February 16, 2011 by auniquecorn
But for someone in his possition, He´s making people think he´s smart, when he really is a joke. If he did cheat he does deserve to loose his degree.

But of course, he´s not worried about it. He´ll just smile, wink and say, AND? He knows nobody would do anything about it anyway. It´s only something to put in the news, it´ll blow over. and he knows it.
12:11 February 16, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
artofwar, maybe you're a lying cheat or maybe not, and maybe lying and cheating don't bother you, but I wrote every word of my dissertation. And if you don't believe that, then you're full of craps.
13:16 February 16, 2011 by freechoice
why after so many years people are beginning to check on his thesis?
13:36 February 16, 2011 by Johnne
@freechoice

Simpl answer, it´s because they´re bored.
14:04 February 16, 2011 by theartofwar
@okieinberlin

Yea, and I once walked on the water too. But you are right...I don't believe you!
17:06 February 16, 2011 by kreese
Joe Biden was accused of the same thing---look where it got him! For Biden, it is a good thing--he couldn't make it in the real world. Of course, for America, it is not a good thing.
17:20 February 16, 2011 by Loth
I get my opinions from reading. Its impossible to have all experiences in the first person. If I agree with what I read and I repeat it in some way is that the same thing as plagiarism? I am not sure?
17:50 February 16, 2011 by fryintl
What I find amazing is a couple of things.

1. Herr Doktor von Guttenberg is so popular that teh press and liberals want to discredit him so much, they are grasping at straws.

2. Anyone who thinks this isn't politically motivated and is just a story about truth and justice needs a head examination

3. Anyone in Germany would pay much attention to this crap.

There is much more going on here. SO, Why is Gutenberg so important to destroy? He must really be what Freedom and Conservative leadership is about. And that scares the liberal/socialist agenda makers. Watch for this: If they do not succeed in sinking his political boat with this, there will be uglier and more vicious attempts to do so. The way I see it, if I were a German that wanted the best for my country, I would seek out those educated persons the media wants to destroy, and independently verify if what the media says is true, and then support that person if they are truly innocent or the point being made about them is not really that important.

Who is without out sin, let him cast the first stone.
18:07 February 16, 2011 by auniquecorn
NOBODY is Perfect, and my name is Nobody.....
18:34 February 16, 2011 by frankiep
Can you say political witch hunt?

Andreas Fischer-Lescano is a member of the board of trustees of the Institut Solidaris Moderne, an far left organisation which (according to their own words) is against capitalism, neoliberalism, and seeks to build a stronger European wide Left. (for those of you who don't believe me, check out their website http://www.solidarische-moderne.de/)

Now, I wonder why a leading member of such a blatantly biased organisation would take it upon himself check doctoral theses that were already checked and approved years ago. Hmmm, couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Guttenberg is a member of the 'wrong' party and holds the 'wrong' ideology, now could it.

Just as importantly, why is it that The Local left out this very important, and very easily obtained, information from this story????
18:35 February 16, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
artofwar, it just goes to show, you're full of craps!
18:45 February 16, 2011 by theartofwar
@okiein

Yes, that's why I unload it atleast once a day!!!! What do you do with yours...eat it?
21:39 February 16, 2011 by Nina Williams
Have no opinion on Guttenberg personally, but this does not suprise me. Has anyone compared his English Wikipedia profile to his German one? In the English profile he is made out to be a man of all seasons: Doctorate, CEO of a large corporation etc. In the German profile there is a lot of doubt cast on his accomplishments including the validity of his Doctorate. It makes for a very interesting comparison...
22:14 February 16, 2011 by theartofwar
@nina

Wow, Shocking! His title "the minister of defence" probably fake too, right Nina? How long it took you to dig it up? He probably tried to hide it desperately, but now you have uncovered it, good for you. Hurry, call the opposition parties, you going to be a big hero!
22:21 February 16, 2011 by proclusian
Those of you positing a political witch-hunt from the Left are barking up the wrong tree. The Gorch Foch brouhaha and this thesis plagiarism scandal are coming about because our dear D.M. is a threat to Merkel's political survival within the CDU. It's got nothing to do with the left.

@frankiep needs to give it up. It is perfectly obvious to anyone with a brain that, insofar as the Local has any politics, it writes from the centre-right.
22:51 February 16, 2011 by Nina Williams
Ummm...wasn't trying to dig up anything. Don't care that much about German politics. I just looked at his profile because I thought he and his wife looked like a glamorous pair and wanted to know more about his family history. It just struck me as odd that the profiles were different that's all. (Wow you guys sound like rabid pitbulls, seriously lighten up!)
22:51 February 16, 2011 by frankiep
Really proclusian?

So you don't think it at all curious that the person making these accusations against a high ranking and popular conservative politician is himself one of the leaders of a radical, far left organisation which aims to create a pan-European Leftist utopia.

You really don't see anything wrong with this picture?
23:12 February 16, 2011 by MaKo
Craps: In America, we shoot them. It's a kind of sport, look it up. Maybe that will distract you from all of that trolling, war boy.
01:07 February 17, 2011 by smaky
But f course it is a political witch hunt - the fiendish lefties plagiarised the articles word for word into the poor man's thesis. It is not his fault, he did not know about it. There can be no other plausible explanation, right?

Neither the noblemen, nor the academics, nor the politicians should steal. And stealing indeed seems to be the unpleasant deed dear Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg did.
02:59 February 17, 2011 by Talonx
@theartofwar

I am completely unsurprised that you are a plagiarist, let's not forget this folks, THEARTOFWAR is an admitted plagiarist.

I have never once plagiarised anything I have written, I feel pretty secure in throwing stones at you on this one. I don't even understand how it's possible, considering that it is much easier to cite and write your own text than to go to all the trouble of copying someone elses. I guess this assumes you know what you are writing about. Maybe we should be checking theartofwar's posts for snippits from other people's commentaries, eh?
07:34 February 17, 2011 by toemag
I recall saying in another thread that he's made of Teflon ;-) Another character assassination attempt by those (the opposition), who recognise his true potential.

Once they have realised that you can only write something so many ways and that he probably did it all on his own and started looking for something else, his position will just be stronger. If this wasn't politics you could call it stalking and mobbing...
10:10 February 17, 2011 by Talonx
@toemag

Paraphrasing is still plagiarism when you don't cite your sources. The issue is that he copied text word for word, he did this in the 'opinion section' of his dissertation (which is even worse).

Further, in all sincerity, sorry to be the English language police on this one, but we don't 'mob' people, the word you are looking for is 'bully'. My friends make this mistake about as often as I use 'doch' incorrectly :).
10:38 February 17, 2011 by authun
"Doch" is a tough one. I still have no idea...
10:52 February 17, 2011 by Talonx
It's only used to counter a statement with a affirmation. So...

Person A: 'Du bist doof,' Person B: 'doch,' is incorrect.

Person A: 'Du bist kein richtiger Man,' Person B: 'doch,' is correct.

It's basically 'yes, actually'.
12:03 February 17, 2011 by Krim
One of the CDU leaders does not want to believe Guttenberg plagiarism. He is claiming that´s not possible because the PhD supervisor is a well known professor. Please mister leader, we are not talking about abstract issues. People are using scientific methods to establish the plagiarism case. By the way he is not the first.
15:12 February 17, 2011 by toemag
@ Talonx

I haven't read his Doctor work or compared it to others works, is there a link to go and have a look at and decide for myself? Cheers.
16:52 February 17, 2011 by smaky
One of many links: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/app/subchannel/politik/guttenberg/
17:19 February 17, 2011 by Krim
We have been using the software Ithenticate to check plagiarism in scientific proposals http://www.ithenticate.com/

Very helpful in the case of stupid copy/paste plagiarism like the present case.
21:40 February 17, 2011 by Talonx
@ Smaky and Krim,

Thanks for that, ithenticate is an excellent resource.

@ toemag,

I understand your hesitancy to jump on the accusation train, but this isn't some politician throwing accusations across the room, accusations they will ultimately not be held accountable for, rather this is an academic risking his professional reputation.

Unlike in politics, in academics, you don't ever bounce back from fraud.

That said, I don't think that if Theo loses his Ph.D. he will also lose his position. But he will be a confirmed plagiarist and idiot.
22:08 February 17, 2011 by toemag
Thanks for the links, oh dear me.
08:09 February 18, 2011 by authun
@Talon

Thanks!

@Krim

No surprise there, despite how amazingly mindless the "thinking" is, no? Germans get that weak-kneed in admiration of titles. I always conjecture it to be leftover feudal programming.
10:04 February 18, 2011 by Krim
I think the Von Guttenberg case is just the Tip of the iceberg. The issue is not about one individual, we are dealing with a corrupt system which did build for years. In Wissenschaft-Politik-Kulture the overlap is subtlety used to enginneer many CVs to give birth to famous professors and leaders and sometimes with the connivance of US institutions. If you look deeply or/and talk to insiders you will discover a lot of fake.

There is a kind of tyranny and people are scared to talk in public. Some start talking just before or after retirement.

By the way, the professor from Bremen who had the courage to address the plagiarism case will pay a heavy price. Wait and see.
17:46 February 18, 2011 by roboni
Merkel must be smiling in her pants. She thanking the left got doing her party's job.
19:42 February 18, 2011 by Talonx
@Krim

I think you're being a bit melodramatic considering that American Universities hand out honorary degrees for doing no work whatsoever, in my opinion, Theo is at least better than that.

Additionally, a country were Bob Jones University can get accredited has more than its sure of a culture of fraud to deal wiht.
23:06 February 18, 2011 by DrGideonPolya
In addition to his pathetic plagiarism, Germany's extreme right wing Defence Minister Guttenberg is responsible for day-to-day running of Germany's shameful and war criminal involvement in the first major genocide of the 21st century, the Afghan Genocide (post-invasion excess deaths 4.9 million) - just as his German counterpart in 1904-1907 was responsible for the Namibian Genocide of 0.1 million Hereros and Namas in SW Africa, the first major genocide of the 20th century.

Dr (?) Guttenberg is encouraged to plead guilty and seek forgiveness for his part in the Afghan Genocide (2.6 million post-invasion Afghan infant deaths; Google Afghan Holocaust , Afghan Genocide) as well as for his PhD thesis plagiarism (a very minor crime in comparison) . I would also invite him to plagiarize something for which an Australian agnostic, humanist scientist, Dr Gideon Polya, is #1 in the world for declaring, to whit: "thou shalt not kill children" (Google the phrase).
23:22 February 18, 2011 by A South African Lady
Yawn......

It seems Liberals will dig everywhere in a pathetic attempt to try find a speck of dirt in order to discredit Guttenberg. They are running scared, and probably have many ugly skeletons rattling in their own closets.

Why some people persist in believing everything they read, and immediately condemn. this kneejerk reaction has never failed to amuse and amaze me.

Have people really become so dumb that they believe everything they are fed? Quite frankly this is a storm in a teacup, and reads as a genuine oversight on Guttenberg's part. It is not even worth an investigation, and a waste of taxpayers money..
06:19 February 19, 2011 by dr.makni49
A lively but unfortunate debate. The Dr. is victim of scrutiny, several years later. Some have hinted at his political victimization and others as the faulty criteria of declaring a research thesis as plagiarized.

All said and done, it is true that 'plagiarizing' is intellectual dishonesty but it is also true that some call research as open cheating. You pick up the material, support your arguments but quote the sources.

One thing the Minister can not escape is his fatal omission is to quote verbatim, and not following the citation rules at more than one places. If an ignorant researcher, picks up the Minister's plagiarized part would cite him as the original source where as it would be utterly wrong step to which the new researcher is unaware. That is how the mistakes compound.

Minister has already taken a fine decision to drop his 'Dr' prefix that is very encouraging. In my part of the world, pseudo scholars claim doctoral qualification just because they paid to a cheat institution that never existed for the claim over PhD and unashamedly justify that their prefix was valid. About their thesis, they have no knowledge about, where is it located. The malice is deep and needs to be curbed.

The German watch system has done nice job.

Thanks.
09:08 February 19, 2011 by Tom II
What is all the commotion about? Doesn't every one in Germany know that B.S. Ph.D. actually stands for Bull Sh!t Piled High & Deep? And that what people won't stand for they will fall for?
17:41 February 19, 2011 by Talonx
@ Tom II

Unlike Theo, some people actually did all their own research and gave everyone credit that deserved it in their research, dissertations, and theses.

In the case of your break down of 'B.S. Ph.D.' regarding Theo, I will not disagree.

But, I earned my degrees and all the pay-grade privileges and job-opportunities that come with.
18:58 February 28, 2011 by markoer
Well, Guttenberg actually copied not even 10 pages out of 600. He did write something. And I didn't copy my dissertation!!!...
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