A spectre is haunting Europe, and this time it is the spectre of plagiarism and scientific misconduct. Some high-profile politicians have had to resign in the last 18 months – but the revelations are also shaking respected European universities.
Many European countries, especially Germany, have long considered it unnecessary to give plagiarism more than a cursory look. One trusts in the self-cleansing powers of science, end of story.
Last February, a reviewer of German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s doctoral dissertation discovered and documented some plagiarised passages.
When the papers pounced on this, zu Guttenberg denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations “absurd”. If he had messed up the odd footnote, he said he would fix it for the second edition.