Most of my German readers are well aware of the plagiarism scandal around
former German minister one of their representatives in the European Parliament: Silvana Koch-Mehrin. However, it is a European scandal now. It has reached the European Parliament and this is why I write this post in English. I hope to draw the attention of other members of the academic community (especially in Europe) to this problem and the petition we have launched today. It concerns us all as ultimately it is about the reputation of academic research.
Koch-Mehrin was found guilty of plagiarism by a committee of the University of Heidelberg in charge of investigating the accusations.
During the two month-long investigation, the committee found more than 120 plagiarized passages in over 80 pages of Koch-Mehrin’s doctoral thesis […]. They came from more than 30 different sources, two thirds of which were not identified. (source)
As a consequence the university of Heidelberg withdrew the title from her on 15 June 2011. In a press release (which as far as I can tell does not exist in English) she was defiant, arguing that “she knew from the beginning that her doctoral thesis was no masterpiece.” She tries to shift the blame by claiming that “good scientific practices” do also “require to closely consider the submitted work.” Apparently Ms Koch-Mehrin has not understood the accusation against her. Fraud is fraud and you cannot blame those who fell for it for your own wrongdoings.
Koch-Mehrin is the second high profile German politician who lost her title because of plagiarism. She resigned as Vice-President of the European Parliament because of the scandal. But yesterday the European Parliament has put the fox in charge of the hen house. Silvana Koch-Mehrin was elected as a full member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the European Parliament. This committee is amongst other things in charge of the EU research policy and space policy. To have someone who lost her PhD because of plagiarism to be member of a commission in charge of research policy is an insult for honest academics and an embarrassment for the European Parliament.
We have therefore launched a petition calling for her resignation. She wants to make the “digital agenda, information technologies, telecommunication and the Internet” her priorities. Let us demonstrate how well the digital community can organize.
Please sign the petition and spread the word! It is especially important that European citizens sign the petition (although we are thankful for any support from the academic community in the US, European signatories will have the greatest impact).
Full link to the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/resignation-of-silvana-koch-mehrin-from-the-european-pa.html