Posts Tagged ‘Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’

German Education Minister to appeal against loss of her Doctorate

February 6, 2013
Bundesministerin Dr. Annette Schavan

Bundesministerin Dr. Annette Schavan (Photo credit: AndreasSchepers)

Update! 9th February

Annette Schavan has resigned.


Dusseldorf University has not taken long after opening formal revocation proceedings to strip Annette Schavan – the German Minister for Education and Research- of her Doctorate for plagiarism.


The University of Duesseldorf’s philosophy faculty decided on Tuesday that she had carried out “a deliberate deception through plagiarism”.

The minister has denied the claims and said she will appeal.

An earlier plagiarism row brought an end to the political career of Germany’s defence minister in 2011.

Large parts of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s 2006 legal dissertations were found by Bayreuth University to have been copied and he stood down before it issued its damning verdict in May 2011.

Using the same words as Duesseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University, it concluded that he had “deliberately deceived”.

When Ms Schavan became the second minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to be accused of copying her doctorate, in this case by an anonymous blogger, she insisted she had never “knowingly falsely cited any sources” and promised to respond to the accusations.

But the faculty committee concluded that her work, which dealt with the formation of conscience, included a “substantial number of unaccredited direct quotes from other texts”.

In a statement declaring the doctorate invalid and withdrawing it from Ms Schavan, the faculty head Bruno Bleckmann said they had “decided by secret ballot, by 12 votes to two, with one abstention”. 

The minister herself, 57, was said to be on a five-day education and science co-operation trip to South Africa.. Education minister since 2005, she is described as a close colleague of Chancellor Merkel.

Her lawyers reportedly rejected the university’s ruling and said Ms Schavan would appeal.

When the university announced its inquiry, she said she had no intention of standing down.

But the investigation into one of Chancellor Merkel’s closest allies is seen as potentially awkward months before Germans vote in federal elections.

The popular German newspaper Bild said the news was a bitter blow to the chancellor, and wondered whether she would need to find a new education minister at the start of her election campaign.


Two years of self-imposed exile for zu Guttenberg

German Education and Research Minister’s dissertation in formal revocation proceedings

January 25, 2013

Yet another German politician’s dissertation is being questioned. But it is particularly ironic when the politician accused of plagiarism is the current German Minister for Education and Research and has been since 2005. Professor Debra Weber-Wulff reports:

Düsseldorf University to open formal revocation investigation

 After an almost six-hour-long meeting behind closed doors, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Düsseldorf voted to open formal revocation proceedings on the dissertation of Annette Schavan, the current German Minister of Education and Research, as noted in a press release issued this evening. Since so many people are interested in this topic world-wide, I am translating it to English here:

In May 2012 a public allegation was raised that the doctoral thesis of Prof. Dr. Schavan contained plagiarism.  If we as a faculty find substantial evidence of  scientific misconduct, we must pursue it vigorously —  regardless of the person involved or their social position. There is no legal statute of limitations on such cases. 
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities must then determine if the doctorate was correctly granted at the time it was granted. 
As part of the process, the doctoral committee of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities conducted a preliminary investigation. They examined Schavan’s written thesis and obtained a statement from her on the situation. 
Based on the recommendation of the doctoral committee, I [the dean, Bruno Bleckmann] presented the question to the Faculty Board at today’s meeting as to whether or not we should proceed with a formal revocation investigation. 
The Faculty Board discussed all of the issues raised during the preliminary investigation in detail today. They voted by secret ballot with 14 votes in favor and one abstention to open a formal revocation investigation.  
In the coming weeks, the members of the Faculty Board will intensively deal with the documents prepared by the doctoral committee and the statement from the person in question. The next meeting of the Faculty Board is set for February 5, at which time the continuation of the revocation investigation will be on the agenda.  
I want to emphasize that the process is still open-ended at this point.


Plagiarist zu Guttenberg invited to join the European Commission

February 11, 2012

zu Guttenberg is back and has friends in high places. Baron Cut and Paste rides again.

This might be considered ironic but being the European commission I put it down to plain stupidity. To have a plagiarist who was brought down by net activism but who then bought his way out of criminal prosecution (by paying €20,000) as a special advisor on net activism illustrates the stupidity and the corruption at the centre of the European Commission.

Stupid is as stupid does.

From TechDirt:

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has invited Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, in Germany, to advise on how to provide ongoing support to Internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes. This appointment forms a key element of a new “No Disconnect Strategy” to uphold the EU’s commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth.

Of course, that’s rather rich coming from a region where France already allows disconnections as punishments (HADOPI), and where the UK has legislation in place that will allow it to do the same (Digital Economy Act). But it turns out that the ironies are even deeper.

 The reason that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg — once seen as a likely successor to Germany’s current Chancellor, Angela Merkel — is no longer the Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, is that he resigned when it emerged that he had plagiarized significant parts of his doctorate.

After initial denials, Guttenberg was forced to admit the extent of his plagiarism thanks largely to a crowdsourced wiki called GutenPlag (original German) offering “collaborative documentation of plagiarism”, which went through his thesis searching for passages taken from elsewhere without acknowledgement. In total, it claims to have found “1218 plagiarized fragments from 135 sources, on 371 out of 393 pages (94.4%), in 10421 plagiarized lines (63.8%).” There’s even an interactive, color-coded visualization of what happened where.

A petition against this stupidity can be found here: zu Guttenberg must leave the European Commission

Guttenberg buys his way out of prosecution for €20,000

November 24, 2011

Paying your favourite charity is apparently sufficient to get German prosecutors to drop prosecution – at least when the offender is zu Guttenberg and the offense is plagiarism.

I had not expected that Germany would still be granting droits de feodalité dominante

Does appear to be “one law for the rich and famous”…

Deutsche Welle:

Bavarian aristocrat and former German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has paid 20,000 euros to avoid prosecution on charges of plagiarism. With the case dismissed, Guttenberg could stage a political comeback.

German authorities have dropped their investigation into plagiarism charges against Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg after the former defense minister agreed to make a donation to a charitable institution.

The public prosecutor’s office said that although 23 passages of Guttenberg’s doctoral thesis possibly violated copyright laws, the monetary damage to the original author was only marginal and Guttenberg had not profited financially.

According to German law, misdemeanor cases can be dismissed if the accused agrees to pay a sum of money, usually to the state or a charitable organization. The court, public prosecutor’s office and the alleged victim all have to agree to the dismissal.

Guttenberg has already wired 20,000 euros ($26,794) to German Cancer Aid, a non-profit organization that supports research into cancer prevention and treatment. The former defense minister can now avoid a criminal record, although the investigation could be resumed if new evidence comes to light.

“It’s a second-rate dismissal, but it’s a dismissal” said Norbert Geis, a legal expert and a parliamentary representative with Guttenberg’s Christian Social Union, a regional ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. ……

Zu Guttenberg starts his public comeback

November 20, 2011

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is serving his self-imposed 2 year exile on the other side of the Atlantic. But he is beginning the process of his own rehabilitation in the public eye. He seems to have subtly changed his look – probably part of a determined effort to create a new “cleaner” image.

Deutsche Welle:

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

Guttenberg's developed a new look, sans glasses and hair gel: Deutsche Welle

Germany’s disgraced former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has returned to the political stage, albeit far away in Canada. After the dodgy doctorate debacle, is this the first sign of a comeback? …

Guttenberg, sporting a new look at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, was referred to as “the honorable Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, distinguished statesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)” when introduced to the audience of some 300 people. Guttenberg moved to the US with his family in the summer, and works at CSIS, a think tank based in Washington.

….. Guttenberg’s doctoral title has since been revoked by the University of Bayreuth, and he may yet face trial on charges of violations of copyright law in writing his thesis. The former defense minister did not speak to journalists on the sidelines of the forum.

The Heidelberg affidavit: German Universities take action to prevent PhD fraud

September 12, 2011

I have long felt that the work of researchers and scientists cannot and should not be devoid of liability (whether criminal or civil liability) in cases of scientific misconduct or fraud. Recently two University of Toronto law professors argued that medical ghostwriting where medical or pharmaceutical companies finance the writing of favourable, peer-reviewed,  scientific articles should be considered fraud and liable as such.

Now after the retraction of a splurge of PhD’s awarded to German politicians, the academic community is acting to protect the reputation and the value of their PhD’s. Heidelberg University and Bonn University – among others – are tightening their regulations. The NY Times  reports:

The plagiarism scandals that rocked the political world in Germany this year have led to a period of soul-searching among academics and researchers around the country. They have also prompted calls for stricter controls at German universities. …. After several cases in which doctoral theses were described as using unattributed material from earlier works — the most prominent of which pushed Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to resign as defense minister — German universities have questioned the way doctoral candidates are tested. Some academics insist that the system is generally sound, pointing out that in the half-dozen high-profile cases where plagiarism was found, the doctoral degree was ultimately retracted.

… the University of Bonn, which in July retracted the doctoral title of Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a member of the European Parliament, the university will publish extensive and explicit guidelines so that doctoral students know exactly what is expected.

Heidelberg University, which in June formally retracted the doctorate of Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a member of the European Parliament, announced in August that it would begin demanding that doctoral students sign a legally binding affidavit, attesting original authorship. Signing a false statement on such an affidavit can prompt legal action in the local courts, which can lead to a fine and even to a prison sentence of up to three years under the German penal code.

Professor Thomas Pfeiffer, speaking for the university, said the threat of possible legal action, in addition to the embarrassment of a retracted doctorate, would act as a further deterrent.

Faculties at the University of Bonn, Heidelberg University and the University of Bayreuth have all retracted doctorates after internal commissions determined that students-turned-politicians had plagiarized. They are demanding that all doctoral theses be submitted as an electronic copy, to help spot-checking with plagiarism-detection software, a step considered just as important as a deterrent for would-be plagiarists as it is a detection mechanism.

Read the whole article

The Heidelberg affidavit seems a relatively simple and effective way to go. It is pre-emptive and should act as a deterrent without being oppressive. Of course one would wish scientific research to be carried out in an open atmosphere which is not clouded by suspicion. But since the rewards of scientific misconduct – whether as academic or political advancement or in monetary gain – can be very high, suspicion and rivalry will remain unless a system of liability is introduced. This would not only create accountability but would also encourage the taking of responsibility for one’s own work. In fact, if scientists and researchers automatically bear a certain liability for the integrity (not the quality) of their work, then an open atmosphere could actually be promoted.

I see no reason why an extension of the “Heidelberg affidavit” could not be applied to all research workers regarding the integrity of their work and be an integral part of any employment contract.

Another plagiarist politician is now appointed Turkish Minister of Education

July 29, 2011

Political and electoral imperatives often lead to people being placed in the most inappropriate positions and being given authority in areas for which they are completely unsuitable.

In Germany, Sylvana Koch-Mehrin had her doctorate rescinded by the University of Heidelberg for containing over 30% plagiarism in May 2011, and shortly after, in June,  she was named EU Commissioner for Research!!

And now in Turkey,   a plagiarist – Ömer Dinçer – has been appointed Minister of Education in Prime Minister Erdogan’s new government!!

Nature News reports:

German politicians found guilty of plagiarism have seen their careers stumble. First came the forced resignation in March of the German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg – the University of Bayreuth withdrew his PhD thesis after identifying extensive plagiarism. Other German politicians wielding doctor titles were then gleefully been targeted by plagiarism software users. Only last month, Silvana Koch-Mehrin of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) was forced to withdraw from the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy after the University of Heidelberg had revoked her plagiarizing PhD. Her predecessor on the committee, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, had his own PhD revoked by the University of Bonn last week for plagiarism.

In Turkey, on the other hand, a controversial charge of plagiarism has not stopped Ömer Dinçer from being appointed minister of education in Prime Minister Erdogan’s new government. The new government was approved by parliament on 13 July.

Dinçer got his PhD from İstanbul University School of Business Administration in 1984. He went on to build up a high flying academic career in parallel with a political career, becoming chief undersecretary in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s first government in 2003, and minister of labour in Erdoğan’s second government after 2007 elections.

But he lost his title of professor in 2005 when the Turkish Council of Higher Education YÖK identified extensive plagiarism in his academic book Introduction to Business Administration. Dinçer appealed the charge, but it was upheld in court.

On 8 July newspapers reported that YÖK had quietly cleared him early this year to the dismay of many academics. YÖK confirmed to Nature that it had withdrawn the charge but did not provide reasons.

Dinçer has told newspapers that the charge of plagiarism was part of a smear campaign from a supposed network of people, known as Ergenekon, who favour a military coup.


The Guttenberg syndrome: Another German politician resigns over plagiarism

Plagiarism and the morphing of a Minister 

Widespread corruption within Turkish customs: Bribes pool of $125 million 

Two years of self-imposed exile for zu Guttenberg

June 13, 2011

Governments no longer send people into exile but those out of favour often choose self-imposed exile to remove themselves from the public consciousness and wait for better days.

zu Guttenberg needs to purge himself after his plagiarism escapades were found out and seems to have chosen to go this route. A self-imposed exile in London or Washington for about 2 years. But for the “cut and paste” generation his sins are not so heinous – even in academic circles. I consider it unfortunate but it is a reality that the originality that was once considered necessary for any PhD work – in any country and especially in the non-quantitative disciplines – continues to be diluted. Even in the quantitative sciences, the pressure on producing publications has led to many labs with PhD students becoming paper factories. The students go along because the number of their publications is their entry into the academic world.

My guess is that he will be back in German politics in about 5 years. Der Spiegel reports:

After months of hiding from the spotlight, Germany’s fallen former defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is ready for his next big move — abroad. The conservative is preparing to leave the country and rethink his career following the plagiarism allegations that stalled his promising political trajectory. 

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has reason to be cautious. State prosecutors are still investigating more than 100 claims connected to allegations that he plagiarized large chunks of his doctoral dissertation. Once Germany’s most popular and promising politician, the scandal forced the member of the Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union to step down from his post as defense minister on March 1. His alma mater, the University of Bayreuth, later stripped him of his doctoral title, after a damning review of his work found that he had deliberately used text from various sources, including the academic service of the Bundestag where he was an MP at the time, without attributing it. 

Guttenberg has called the plan to leave Germany for at least two years a “sabbatical” in conversations with and emails to friends. He has also reportedly refused to rule out a return to politics at a later date.

Guttenberg and his family are reportedly planning a fresh start abroad after his plagiarism scandal.

Exile or a sabbatical for zu Googleberg: image Der Spiegel


Moving to America in times of difficulty has become an informal tradition for German politicians. Current co-chair of the environmentalist Greens, Cem Özdemir, took a job at a Washington think tank after his personal use of frequent flyer miles earned on the job scandalized German newspapers. He later made a successful comeback.  

Guttenberg, who resigned after just 16 months as defence minister, could be attempting a similar approach. Before the plagiarism scandal many expected the suave aristocrat to make it all the way to the chancellery.

But Guttenberg doesn’t plan to leave too quietly. Before his departure he’s likely to give a lengthy interview about the plagiarism affair, sources told SPIEGEL.

The Guttenberg syndrome: Another German politician resigns over plagiarism

May 12, 2011

German politicians under the age of about 50 who have PhD’s would now all seem to be suspect. No doubt every one of their theses is being subjected to intense scrutiny. It suggests a shortage of personal ethics in this group. They are bringing German science and German Universities into disrepute.

Koch-Mehrin was the German liberal 'face' in Europe

Koch-Mehrin was the German liberal 'face' in Europe: Deutsche Welle

Deutsche Welle reports:

FDP politician Silvana Koch-Mehrin has quit following allegations of plagiarism in her thesis. It comes after ex-defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s university said he deliberately cheated in his thesis.

German Free Democrat Silvana Koch-Mehrin has resigned her post as vice president of the European Parliament and head of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Europe, after allegations surfaced that she plagiarized parts of her doctoral thesis.

“I regret this decision, but I respect the reasons behind it and I’m confident that she will continue to shape European politics,” the foreign minister and outgoing FDP leader, Guido Westerwelle, said on Wednesday in Berlin.

Koch-Mehrin’s decision to step down follows an article in German daily Tagesspiegel, which revealed that the University of Heidelberg is investigating allegations made by activists on the VroniPlag Wiki website.

The website states that its contributors had found that Koch-Mehrin had copied material without attributing it on 56 of the 201 pages of text in her 2001 thesis on the 19th century Latin Monetary Union in Europe. “I hope to make it easier for my party to make a fresh start with a new leadership team,” Koch-Mehrin said in a statement, without admitting to or commenting on the allegations.

Koch-Mehrin’s announcement comes ahead of the FDP’s party convention at the weekend, which will see the election of a new party leader as well as a reshuffling of several cabinet posts. The party has slumped to around four percent in the polls since gaining 14.6 percent of the vote in the 2009 federal election.

Koch-Mehrin’s resignation follows that of former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on March 1. The University of Bayreuth, who stripped him of his title at the end of February, confirmed last week that Guttenberg “deliberately cheated” in his thesis, while he continues to admit only to sloppiness and carelessness, caused by the stress of trying to combine his job as a politician with family life.

Prosecutors in the Bavarian city of Hof are investigating him on charges of infringement of copyright.

As Professor Debora Weber-Wulff puts it:

Germany has been sweeping plagiarism and scientific misconduct under the rug for ages, and it has gotten very lumpy. I think we need to lift the carpet up, give it a good beating to get out the dust, sweep up the garbage that has collected, and get a fresh start. There are so many good scientists in Germany who have to defend themselves against all this bad science.

Related zu Guttenberg posts

Bayreuth University: Guttenberg’s plagiarism was “intentional”

May 6, 2011

Der Spiegel:

Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg always insisted that he had never meant to plagiarize portions of his Ph.D. dissertation. On Friday, however, the University of Bayreuth said that he copied intentionally.

… On Friday, the University of Bayreuth, which awarded Guttenberg his Ph.D. title in 2006, announced its conclusion that the former conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel had intentionally plagiarized. Guttenberg, the university said in a statement, “extensively violated academic standards and intentionally cheated.”  

It is a sentence which completes one of the most rapid and stunning political downfalls Germany has ever seen. Prior to the questions about his doctoral thesis, the member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats, had been among the country’s most popular politicians. Many had even tipped him as a possible successor to Merkel in the Chancellery. But in late February, the University of Bayreuth revoked his doctor title pending an investigation and on March 1, Guttenberg resigned from Merkel’s cabinet. He went on to step down from all other political offices.

zu Googleberg: image

Related posts: The zu Googleberg affaire

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