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The Guttenberg elegies

- May 19, 2011

“Der Spiegel”:http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,762116,00.html has an interesting article on how the “von Guttenberg plagiarism scandal”:http://tmc.org/blog/2011/03/02/data_visualizations_in_everyth/ has given rise to a minor social movement of Ph.D. dissertation plagiarism-checkers (see also “Deutsche-Welle”:http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15078344,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-ger-1023-rdf ).

bq. Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a high-profile member of the European Parliament for Germany’s business-friendly Free Democratic Party, announced on Wednesday evening that she was resigning from all leadership positions after her own plagiarism scandal heated up. Meanwhile a German university announced it was stripping the daughter of former Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber of her Ph.D. because of plagiarism. … Koch-Mehrin, 40, is one of the FDP’s highest-profile female politicians and had in the past been seen as one of the party’s great hopes.

It is perhaps useful for non-Germans to know that the Ph.D. has a quite different status in Germany than e.g. in the US. It not only is a big deal if you can call yourself “Doktor,” but is legally regulated. I, for example, couldn’t legally use the title when I lived in Germany because my Ph.D. was not from a German university (the rules have since loosened a little for Ph.D.s from other European countries, but not, as far as I am aware, for those with US doctorates).

Also interesting is the way that members of this movement brand themselves.

bq. On their websites, they display the instances of plagiarism in their now-iconic “bar code”-style graphics.

Is this the first social movement to use data visualizations as an iconic marker? I included the von Guttenberg graphic in my “earlier post”:http://tmc.org/blog/2011/03/02/data_visualizations_in_everyth/ – here are those for Koch-Mehrin

!http://tmc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Koch-mehrin.png!

and Veronica Sass

!http://tmc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Veronika_Sass.png!