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back to article German education minister accused of copying in class

Yet another German politician has fallen victim to the increasingly common accusation of academic plagiarism. The German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan has been accused of plagiarising parts of her research in the PhD thesis she wrote in 1980. The claims were made by an anonymous website – Schavanplag – set up …

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Anonymous Coward

"Person and Conscience: Studies on conditions, need and requirements of today's consciences"

Sounds like bs even if it wasn't plagiarism.

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cut-and-paste

Is there a reason that the 7th paragraph lightly rephrases the 3rd?

What Ms. Schavan needs is for the Delaware Supreme Court to absolve her.

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Their own fault

Germany idealises PhDs, which is a mistake. I did a biosciences degree and have friends doing them now-they take real, total commitment. (I was told when I was thinking of applying by an academic at York that a 60-hour working week was what he considered sensible-not what he would make you to do, but what he thought you needed to do to produce quality work.) So the result is politicians who got PhDs because they wanted to have letters to go with their name not because they found their subject interesting, and took short cuts.

There's a saying that when you make something a target it stops being a measure of value. That's true here. To be fair Merkel's was in chemistry, so she should be fine.

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Re: Their own fault

I have a lot of respect for Merkel, a 'real' science degree is tough. You are correct, Germany has a preoccupation with aristocracy and doctorates. Anything less than a phd is viewed as a failure, and to be fair a phd is a benchmark for original thought. This has led to soft doctorates (affectionately referred to as basket weaving degrees) and pressure to complete at any cost. Not everyone is suited to a doctorate and not having one is not a mark of failure, I could hardly call our plumber a failure with his renumeration. I remember feeling rather stupid calling my mentor at a petrochem company Dr all the way through an early meeting for him to correct me afterwards. He had no phd but was one of the smartest chemical engineers I have ever met. I learnt it was much better not to place any letters after my name or use any prefix.

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Windows

Re: Their own fault

In my days chemistry was the direction that was overrepresented with phds.

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Plenty of soft doctorates here, too

Just look at the proliferation of "professional" doctorates, like the EdD, which second rate universities sell to punters as a way of getting the title without doing the work.

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Turnitin

Why set up a website ? Retype the thing, pass on to a friendly uni student who submits to to turnitin a wonderful service that highlights phrases such as "thus it can be clearly demonstrated that" as plagarism and have at it.

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Re: Turnitin

Well, given the number of sources the thesis stole from, the site's creators probably started there, unless they had time and the knowledge to recognise them all. But putting it up on a website (and as happened to vuzGuttenberg, adding a wiki function and an I've-spotted-stealing submission field for the general public too) is so much more fun.

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Stop

Who gives a crap anyway?

A piece of paper doesn't affect how they do their job, so why should anyone give a shit? If they are good at their job, then they should keep their job, if their terrible, then they should be fired.

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Re: Who gives a crap anyway?

In germany you have 'dr's and the rest of us.

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"PhD thesis she wrote in 1980" - article

Wasn't that 32 years ago? How many papers were digitized 32 years ago and how many from 32 years ago have been digitized?

Sounds petty and probably bogus to me.

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Amazon Mechanical Turk

Now, you just hire a cheap faceless Mechanical Turk on Amazon to rewrite the passage, put it through a plagiarism tester (since, you probably are too lazy to compare it yourself) to see if they did a good job, then publish.

Maybe there will be software to do the same rewrite sometime, but not yet (arms race alert! Plagiarism testers vs. plagiarism masking software!).

Indeed, the only ones that are caught now are those that cheated decades ago (before the new tech) and the ones that have not caught the new tech wave to obfuscate the pinched work.... and of course the ones that did the rewrite themselves the old fashioned time honored centuries old way, only keeping the key ideas and rebranding the ideas as their own.

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Anonymous Coward

Plagiarism covered up in Thailand

Sad though it is to see, at least German universities act when academic fraud is discovered. See how one of Thailand’s elite universities is trying to cover up allegations of plagiarism in the PhD thesis and academic paper of the Director of Thailand’s National Innovation Agency: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=419680&c=1

Three weeks after the allegations were exposed by Times Higher Education, the university hasn't even bothered to issue a response...

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