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Thursday, June 7, 2012

German Government Accused of Plagiarism

German ministers are being picked apart by some anonymous site that provided evidence about country’s government plagiarizing their scientific works.

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Now the German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan is being targeted by the Schavanplag website that claims she plagiarized PhD dissertation published back in 1980.

According to the website, Annette Schavan had copied phrasing from improperly cited sources. Schavan’s dissertation was titled “Person and conscience – studies on conditions, need and requirements of today’s consciences”. By the way, the paper became a best seller at the University of Düsseldorf.

Annette Schavan appeared at a press conference to discuss her ministry’s proposal for a new legislation that could provide local science organizations more freedom over their budgets. Surprisingly enough, she instead found the local media less interested in budgets but more excited about giving her a Chinese burn about the blog.

Schavan claimed that it all happened a long time ago and you “have to just let things go”. Although her exact quote was that the scientific work was written 32 years ago, and that she would be happy to grant her account to those who were looking into the dissertation, it appeared difficult to deal with anonymous allegations.

Meanwhile, this case is just another one in a string of similar accusations against German politicians. Last year, Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had to resign after some blogger turned up evidence of extensive plagiarism in his dissertation as well. As a result, the University of Bayreuth evoked his Ph.D. title, and since then 6 other German politicians also have had their Ph.D.s revoked due to similar offences.

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