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Guttenberg accused of plagiarizing PhD thesis

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10:40 CET+01:00
German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Wednesday faced accusations he plagiarized parts of his doctoral thesis. But the minister said he had nothing to worry about.

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.

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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.

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