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Education minister loses doctorate for plagiarism

Published: 05 Feb 2013 20:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Feb 2013 21:03 GMT+01:00

An academic committee debated for hours whether to revoke her title for copying passages of her 1980 thesis “Person and Conscience” without citing sources. They found her guilty of “systematic and premeditated” deception.

Although Schavan's lawyer immediate said she would appeal the decision, it’s unclear whether the conservative Christian Democrat can survive as Germany’s top education official.

The affair is an embarrassing election-year blow for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who already lost one minister for plagiarizing a doctoral dissertation.

In 2011, her popular defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was forced to resign after it was revealed he had copied large chunks of his thesis.

Accusations of Schavan's plagiarism were first published anonymously on the blog schavanplag.wordpress last May, prompting her alma mater to announce it would investigate.

Altogether, passages on 60 of the dissertation's 351 pages were found to be questionable.

Schavan has long denied she failed to properly cite her sources.

DAPD/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:30 February 5, 2013 by lucksi
And another call to censor the internet. Again, some pissant peasants are responsible for the fall of their betters.
21:33 February 5, 2013 by septiSeverus
Es tut mir leid.

I am sorry. Honesty and hard work is the best policy.
21:34 February 5, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
It is a great pity that German democracy has always been weakened by politicians who do not live up to their own demands on others. It was the loss of trust in the government of the Weimar Republic which led to the rise of extremist parties before WW2. Already there are some signs of an increase in radical political groups in the Federal Republic. Honest policies and politicians appear to be rarities in this country. The parties would do well to have a good clean up in their own rows before this all ends in disaster again.
22:05 February 5, 2013 by jmclewis
what an arrogant looser!
22:09 February 5, 2013 by McM
OK, now let's see the spotlight turn on the slack faculty and Uni that granted the award in the first place and ,.... abdicated their responsibility to adhere to strict academic supervision standards and ,...had the cheek to accept the doctoral candidates submission in the first place. I would like to see the peer review panel and academic board that awarded the credential exposed and questionsed over their shonky practice and lack of evaluation of the candidate's work. Sure the candidate has a big responsibility to cite all referencing with accuracy , but the Uni has an even bigger responsibility to protect the integrity of Phd awards and clearly that is not happening. We are only seeing tall poppies being cut down but ask yourselves how many thousands of short poppy credentials with faulty citations have been awarded by slack Unis and you may not be too happy about academia in the good old Fatherland.
22:18 February 5, 2013 by kaydays
ouuuchh.... that's gotta hurt!!
22:44 February 5, 2013 by pepsionice
In case anyone was wonder....there's probably over 300 political figures of different parties being reviewed by various outside groups. I would prepare myself for a massive number of investigations. As for the university folks who awarded them? Most have retired, but it might be time to ask how exactly they are reviewing them in the first place. My humble guess is that half of all advanced degrees handed out in the 1970s....were with issues.
01:01 February 6, 2013 by murka
"it¦#39;s unclear whether the conservative Christian Democrat can survive as Germany¦#39;s top education official." - is it really?
08:27 February 6, 2013 by Englishted
Why isn't fraud a crime in Germany?

If I lied on my C.V. then it is, why not these liars?
09:52 February 6, 2013 by raandy
The only people that check every reference and footnote in a Doctorate thesis are those that have an axe to grind, like the opposition parties or persons not favorable to the holder of the title. It seems for sure the granting authorities do not.
11:27 February 6, 2013 by blackboot11
@ lucksi:

you are kidding right?

that is the whole point of freedom of information ....

and @ raandy:

It is the failure of the institution and its review comittees to 'slide' these inferior doctoral theses through as legitimate... what is the name of the institution(s) that allowed this and the recent others in the news?

They too should be investigated.
12:14 February 6, 2013 by BR549
This entire "game" of hunting down politicians and looking for anything to strip their "Doctor" title for political gain is ridiculous. After 30 years working in a doctorate level / position I would assume she can do this kind of work. If the university slides people through, it's their fault... and after so long, really, who cares? Waste of time, money and resources. It's kind of like hunting down 90 year old people for war crimes...I mean yes, guess you could do it, but what's the point? These people been walking around going on 70 years after these things happened and will kick off sooner than later.
12:23 February 6, 2013 by raandy
blackboot11 thats thats the real problem, these Professors that have doctoral students do not throughly check out their theses.It should be noted who these responsible persons are. The granting institutions usually rubber stamp the Professor's recommendation. They should be held accountable along with the plagiarist.
13:13 February 6, 2013 by Gilly58
Trust me...i am a Doctor...yeah right...and another one will eventually bite the dust!...BR549, bang on m8, who really cares?...
17:05 February 6, 2013 by Darra
Isn't it time to abolish the whole PhD system? Or at least change it?

Instead of writing hundreds of pages , just have a list with several bullet poits about the NEW things that you have discovered. And "google them" before writing them , because chances are that someone have already written the same things somewhere :)

I personally find a lot of my thoughts and ideas , even from years ago, written in new books . Darn , I should have published them first ! :)
17:36 February 6, 2013 by jmclewis
What if anything does the Education Minister do? Have there been any accomplishments in her time? Is this just a do nothing job?
19:35 February 6, 2013 by onemark
Agree entirely: punish the doctoral supervisors as well as the students.
09:07 February 7, 2013 by Nicolus
Well, who could have thought that an education minister will have to lose the reputation due to plagiarism charges? It would have been better if she would have been aware of the usage of plagiarism checker. He might have prevented falling into such an embarrassing situation.
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