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Plagiarism case haunts education minister
Photo: DPA

Plagiarism case haunts education minister

Published: 19 Dec 2012 07:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Dec 2012 07:01 GMT+01:00

The University of Düsseldorf has decided to pursue plagiarism charges against German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan. The matter could end in her losing her doctorate.

An academic commission this week recommended holding a hearing whether to open a case against the Christian Democratic minister in January.

"The faculty has no choice but to continue down this path of investigation," the university's rector, Michael Piper, told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.

Schavan, who competed her dissertation in Düsseldorf in 1980, has long denied she failed to properly cite her sources.

However, accusations of plagiarism were first published anonymously on the blog schavanplag.wordpress at the beginning of May, prompting the university to announce it would investigate. Altogether, passages on 60 of the dissertation's 351 pages were found to be questionable.

Beyond the embarrassment at having Germany’s top education official face charges of academic impropriety, it is not the first plagiarism case to hit Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

In 2011, her popular defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was forced to resign when it was uncovered he had copied large chunks of his doctoral dissertation.

DPA/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:54 December 19, 2012 by murka
Maybe this will make her change the glasses and the haircut, which are painful to look at.
11:25 December 19, 2012 by grinners
@ murka: hahahahahaha
15:14 December 19, 2012 by McM
And when are they going to investigate the Uni faculty that supervised and recommended the award to their even slacker academic peer review panel that accepted the disitation and awarded the credential in question in the first place if it was not up to scratch.

Or, is this just another German tall poppy pruning media circus??
17:12 December 19, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Between this and the other article regarding German Unis pumping out higher grade qualifications one would have to be sceptical of all German qualifications. For a country that holds som much importance to 'Ze piece of papier' in comparison to most other countries one could be forgiven for thinking they counteract this importance by handing them out more readily. Maybe foreign qualifications are harder earned and these countries counteract this by allowing people get on better in their careers without these formal qualifications. It would be great to see some follow up studies and statistics on this.
20:26 December 19, 2012 by blackboot11
in a counrty that places so much emphasis on a person's title (Herr/Frau, Diplom. etc...) there seems to be an overanxious need to 'acquire' one to get ahead here.

it nmakes the whole german higher education system look very foolish ...
21:20 December 20, 2012 by mitanni
@McM What's there to investigate? Schavan studied theology and pedagogy. Those fields are so devoid of any kind of objectively meaningful content that the real question should be why people grant doctorates in them at all.
13:59 December 21, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@mitanni As well as allowing her to use her title in Politics. As if these titles make her more qualified for the job. Germans just love titles for the sake of them.
14:24 December 27, 2012 by GraceStevenson
"It is not the first plagiarism case to hit Chancellor Angela Merkel¦#39;s government."

I think politicians should use plagiarism detectors while writing the speeches, students are using plagiarism checker Plagtracker, so there should be created such stuff for editors and journalists
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