The German minister of education, Annette Schavan, today announced that she resigns. An anonymous blogger, under the pseudonym Robert Schmidt, first published evidence that Schavan’s 1980 PhD-thesis, with the (unfortunate) title “Character and conscience” contained a large number of plagiarised paragraphs. Schavan is not the only German politician to be accused of doing insane science. The minister of defence Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was forced to resign in 2011 under very similar circumstances. MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin is a third case, and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is a fourth. All four have been found to have plagiarised parts of their respective PhD-theses and by now they have all been stripped of their titles. The plagiarism was discovered by citizen journalism, bloggers, curious individuals and internet-coordinated crowds, NOT by the scientific community.
Germany stands out when it comes to scientific misconduct. According to this paper Germany is perhaps the most fraudulent research country, and in particular data falsification and fabrication seems to be more common in Germany that in other countries.
ScienceInsanity wonders about the responsibility of the universities that awarded the doctorates in the first place. What should universities do to prevent plagiarism?
And why wasn’t the plagiarism discovered by the opponents or the scientific community?