Yesterday, BBC News’ “Viewpoint” series ran a special on “The Spectre of Plagiarism Haunting Europe“, which documents how some high-profile politicians (and academics) are stepping-down from their posts after plagiarism was discovered in their dissertation theses and publicized via Wiki pages.
The suggestion, in the concluding remarks, is:
Dissertations need to be published online with open access to permit easy checking, and a random sample of theses defended in the past five years needs to be reviewed in order to identify weak points. However, there is currently no funding for such measures, so it’s unclear whether German universities will really get serious about plagiarism, or keep muddling on.
Evidence suggests this is not an exclusively German plague, so similar measures may be required in other European countries too, possibly all, to ensure that higher degrees awarded in Europe’s universities continue to attract the respect they deserve.
This sort of “watchdog” work by experts and non-experts alike seems to hold back the tide of “creeping tolerance for scientific misconduct” in academia … pieces like this one, and many more, which are bound to come, should be front-page news for students and faculty alike.