158

A student of a German institute has translated my Russian thesis word by word to English and submitted it as her own work in 2014. I informed the university providing them with my work in Russian and presentations of the work I made in 2013. Upon receiving my email, university examinations first asked for a legal translation of my work. To which I replied that my work was written in Russian and that is a reason why it was stolen – for translation – and also that the legal translation of even one page would cost a lot. And since I was the victim in this case, I suggested that their university is responsible for preventing the acceptance of plagiarised works and has to either translate my work or ask one a professor who speaks Russian to confirm the match. Also, I suggested them to look at numerous tables with hundreds of numbers and match them (providing pages).

Two months have passed since then, and I still haven’t received any update. I called the examination office, and the woman re-directed me to her colleague, who then told me that:

  1. Me not being a student of that university, I have no right for any information.
  2. If there was any plagiarism, their system would recognise it.
  3. I should ask the student who I claim has stolen my work on any information.

Yet the problem is:

  1. Their European plagiarism system has no access to the database of university in Russia, and moreover my thesis is in Russian, while she submitted translated English version. So plagiarism is untraceable by their system. Which they apparently ignore.
  2. Asking me to talk to the person committing the plagiarism, who in the first place lied to me when stealing my work, and declined my request for her to come forward and recall work. It is the same as police would tell the assault victim to go and talk to the criminal.

Is there any legal way for me to get the answer on the plagiarism case from this university? Shouldn’t the university be checking the translation of my thesis rather than requesting me to make an official translation? After all it’s their job to prevent plagiarism! And given their system has holes – I did part of the job for them already – identifying that the work is plagiarism and its up for them to check.

Yet they completely brush me off saying I am not involved and have no rights.

  • 68
    "If there was any plagiarism, their system would recognise it." What. – JiK Mar 23 '15 at 13:49
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    @CountIblis: No, Russia is a signatory to the Berne convention. Furthermore, plagiarism is not the same thing as copyright violation. – Ben Crowell Mar 23 '15 at 20:04
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    To see the bright side, you do now have an english translation of your work ;) – Theolodis Mar 24 '15 at 8:32
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    If this is indeed true and the actions were as egregious as stated by the OP, I think I can speak for many of us when I say, go take this person down. – LordStryker Mar 25 '15 at 19:55
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    The typical employee from administration is probably just not able to cope with an incident like this, reluctant about the extra work and hassle, and not yet sensitized for the severity and implications of plagiarism on the institutions reputation. I think it is all about contacting the "right" people, that is, the professor in charge for study/thesis cases! Has your work been handed in as a Master's or as a PhD thesis at the German university? (Both are handled very differently at German institutions, so this is the first thing we need to know to point you to the right search terms.) – Daniel Mar 26 '15 at 11:01

13 Answers 13

78

In my opinion, what seems to have gone wrong is that the examination office employees do not have an interest in pursuing this issue. After all, the student having handed in your thesis may sue the university if the thesis gets rejected. After the degree has already been awarded to the student, it is quite difficult to retract the degree. This is probably why they asked for an official translation. By the way, the examination office does not rate or examine anything - they are concerned with the administrative processes of examinations, and are thus probably unable to deal with this issue correctly. They might have felt that they need to deal with this issue, though, which is why they asked you to provide an official translation. As you wrote, you shouldn't be expected to pay for this.

As a suggestion, you may want to consider contacting researchers at the university directly. Point of contact number one should probably be the advisor of plagiarizing student. Other points of contact may be the secondary examiner, or the dean of studies. Provide them with bibliographical information about your thesis and a PDF of your thesis. At larger universities, there may probably be Russian PhD students that they can ask for a first look. In the east of Germany, it is not entirely uncommon that older professors can read Russian themselves. Once they have some indication that your accusation may be correct, they are likely to arrange for a closer check.

  • 45
    German universities have been prominently revoking a lot of degrees in recent years and have much more to lose by not doing so. Also, German examination offices do much more than collecting data but handle almost all administrative issues regarding examinations. If I presented some reasonable evidence or even a strong claim of plagiarism to my (German) department’s examination office, some responsible professors would very likely become aware of this within the day. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 13:47
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    In another note, the advisors responsible for the thesis are actually among the few persons at the university having a good motivation to have this thesis not revoked, as they are the ones who are actually (to some extent) responsible for detecting plagiarism and, if the asker’s account is correct, spectacularly failed to do so. Thus, I would not contact them. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 15:22
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    @Wrzlprmft - Maybe. But it may also be the other way around. The advisor may actually want to pursue this before anyone else in the University does, as this gives her a bit of control of the process (and hence allows her to deflect against damage as well as possible), by, for example, being the point of contact for the examination committee ("Prüfungsausschuss"). The only way to reasonably detect this kind of plagiarism is when the Russian thesis is actually known to her, which provides a sufficient line of defense against most "attackers". – DCTLib Mar 23 '15 at 15:27
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    +1 I would be extremely pissed if this were to happen to me (of course). I would write a detailed email, provide as much evidence as possible (I agree with OP not to pay for translation), and then send it to the thesis advisor, the department chair, the graduate chair of the department, as well as the dean of the school. This will escalate the issue...but it will escalate the issue. It will have everyone's attention while leaving a written trail. And it puts everyone in check so it will be impossible for the advisor to cover up unless the entire university is in on it. – Fixed Point Mar 23 '15 at 16:01
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    @DCTLib: Of course the supervisors would like control of this process, but I strongly doubt that they will use it responsibly, as the amount of plagiarism we are talking about here is very unlikely to be pulled off under a remotely responsible supervision. The supervisors will be aware of this and have good reason to do everything in their power to make the plagiarism look as mild as possible. Giving them the power to deal with this is like having a case of corruption being investigated by the direct superior of the accused. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 22:00
62

The behavior of the University does not surprise me. A plagiarised thesis is considered an image damage, so the Univ. is not interested in any investigation.

I don't think there is much you can do. If I were you, I would try the following:

  • Write to her supervisor or her professor, tell the about the plagiarism. Maybe they are interested in investigation
  • Write to DFG http://www.dfg.de/en/. They should feel responsible for this, but the chances that they would do sth. are pretty bad.
  • Write to http://de.vroniplag.wikia.com/wiki/Home/English about your case, in particular that the Univ. (and the supervisor/professor, if they don't react to point 1) blocks your investigation. This page is more concerned about plagiarism in Doctoral theses, but maybe some member there is also interested in your case.
  • Write to Debore Weber-Wulff, author of this blog http://copy-shake-paste.blogspot.de/. She is an anti-plagiarism researcher and might be interested in your case.
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    +1 for the researcher point, since they might have contacts which will result in action being taken. – March Ho Mar 23 '15 at 21:18
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    If you write to the right people at the DFG (see my answer) the chances that they take some action aren't that bad as they have a special committee for such cases. – Benedikt Bauer Mar 25 '15 at 11:57
  • The VroniPlag link is dead. – svick Mar 26 '15 at 23:30
  • de.vroniplag.wikia.com/wiki/Home works fine but is obviously in German, dunno if they removed the English information, or never had any? – tripleee Mar 27 '15 at 14:14
  • As a personal opinion I think it is more image damaging to brush off people for such cases than to take proper investigation steps and appropriate action. The latter is to me an indicator of a highly professional and ethical university. The image damage could only come if the facts are reported with bias by media. – a1an Sep 3 '15 at 8:33
54

The brushing off you describe looks like you just raised your concerns to the wrong persons in the depths of the administrative system.

The German Research Foundation DFG has its own ombudsman committee (also with its own website, however unfortunately only available in German) to investigate academic misconduct.

As stated here

The Research Ombudsman [...] is an independent committee that provides assistance to all researchers in questions involving good scientific practice and scientific misconduct. The Research Ombudsman can be contacted directly, irrelevant of any connection to the DFG.

The contact to this committee is kept confidential throughout the process. From what I have heard in some presentations they really take things seriously and don't easily reject cases if there are serious hints of misconduct.

Although the site of the ombudsman of the DFG itself is only available in German, they have an english contact form where also the procedure is described that will be exercised in case of a notice:

If, after an evaluation of the documents that the inquirer provided to support their claim, the committee comes to the conclusion that there might be at least a case of infringement of the rules of good practice, they will ask the accused party for a statement. If it turns out that it wasn't just a minor infringement but some serious misconduct, they will transfer the case to a special investigation committee for further investigation.

Also, if the work in question was related to some DFG funded project (to my experience a vast majority of research groups at German universities receive at least some funding from the DFG) and the investigators come to the conclusion that there was a serious misconduct, then the consequence could be that the funding for this is cancelled or reduced. Therefore the Ombudsman committee has some lever to make people act, since just sitting it out might put the financial situation of the people involved at risk.

Above that every German university should have a local ombudsperson with basically the same function but it may be somewhat complicated for someone external to find out who that is, so I would stick to the one of the DFG and give it a try.

  • 1
    Very helpful answer. I didn't knew of the existence of such role. – Jorge Leitão Mar 24 '15 at 19:01
39

I am aware that this is very annoying to you, but I think you need to understand two things:

  • Treating this as a legal issue is probably a bit of a dead end. Yes, there is a copyright infringement involved, but following through on a copyright case that is, in the global sense of things, very small-scale (the "financial damage" to you is basically zero) is probably not financially attractive to you. This is much more about academic misconduct, and in such matters, judges and lawyers do not typically get involved. Basically, "plagiarizing" is not a crime.
  • It is, unfortunately, not overly surprising that the university staff initially brushed you off. If correct, your accusation will lead to loads of work for university staff as well as damage to the reputation of the university. There's a good chance that they saw a chance to brush this under the rug and went for it. Given their initial reaction, you should assume that they will not be helpful in making this right until their hand is forced.

I agree with user12956 that your best bet is to make your case public. Especially in Germany, there is quite a platform for serious cases of plagiarism, and there is a non-trivial amount of publicity for egregious cases. Once you have hit a certain level of publicity, I would assume that the university in question will start to become much more open to start a real investigation, to prevent further damage to their brand. However, this is of course all going to be a lot of work for you.

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    I don't think that the financial damage is small, it is a substantial amount of intellectual property stolen, ghostwriters would charge tens of thousands of $ for that. The financial benefit for obtaining the degree would be also big. I am not a lawer, but I think there does not need to be a 'crime' to make a legal claim (if your rights were violated). – benroth Mar 24 '15 at 16:20
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    @benroth at least in the US copyright damages are limited to actual damages and profits of the infringer while in Germany nonpecuniary damages are also covered although I do not think it covers what you are talking about. I have no idea what copyright law in Russia covers. – StrongBad Mar 24 '15 at 19:26
22

I am the above named person and have been active with the German-language plagiarism documentation site VroniPlag Wiki for the past 4 years. I do apologize for the English-version of the home page disappearing, I'll see what I can do to get it back.

This is indeed not a legal issue, as copyright claims have to be made in court and the chances of getting anything happening in this area in Germany are almost zero. Going through the university is indeed the only way to go, and unfortunately as some have noted, they are not all happy to hear about cases like this. I have informed universities about over 120 cases of plagiarism, so perhaps I can offer some perspective here:

  • The first question is: is this a doctoral thesis or a bachelor's or master's thesis?
  • If it is a doctoral thesis, then it must be published in Germany. It can be found in the university library or the German National Library (DNB). The person to contact is the dean of the department that granted the degree. I get marginally better response rates by CCing the president/rector on my email. But in over a third of the cases I did not even receive an acknowledgement of my email (that includes careful documentation), so I had to ask back two weeks later.
  • If it is a bachelor's or master's thesis that happens to be published, then I would also contact the dean, but not CC the president.
  • If it is a bachelor's or master's thesis that is not published, you will need to contact the Prüfungsausschußvorsitzender, not the Prüfungsamt. Trying to find this person will be very difficult, as German university web pages are in general not in English and/or up to date. The idea of contacting the advisor or having your advisor contact someone at the university is excellent.
  • The Ombud people at universities or Ombud der Wissenschaft (no longer only for DFG-financed projects, but for all cases) tend to get involved in authorship disputes, data ownership disputes, and the like from within the university. They are generally not equipped to handle plagiarism accusations, as they have practically no resources. Some university ombuds will try to keep you at bay by requesting things such as a translation of your thesis or additional documentation. They, too, generally have no resources.

The problem is that German universities do not have honor boards or even a collective notion of what constitutes good scientific practice and how to deal with academic misconduct. Often it will indeed be classified under data privacy laws, although most universities indeed have a process codified that includes telling the informer what their decision was and giving reasons. But even I, a known German researcher in this area, end up writing letter after letter trying to obtain knowledge about how the university has dealt with a case that I informed them about years ago. I've just published a paper together with a colleague about this miserable situation: "Viel Licht und noch mehr Schatten - Wie Universitäten auf Plagiatsdokumentationen reagieren". In Forschung & Lehre, 4/2015, pp. 278-280.

There is no central German body to which you can apply, and I don't have the time or resources to investigate all of the many cases that show up. If the case involves a published dissertation, then it is possible for you to document it on the VroniPlag Wiki site. There are theses in German, English, and Spanish documented on the wiki. There would have to be at least one other scientist who reads Russian, though, as the cases must all be verified before they are made public. But since it is an open platform, it is possible for someone to be found who can verify this. There is no "magic" software that is used, and translations are not (easily) discoverable with software anyway.

If the university does not answer you, you can send documentation of your attempts to get the university to take action to the Kultusbehörde of the German state the university is in and ask politely what you need to do to get the university to answer you. This can indeed get the university to wake up. But don't do this until you have tried honestly to get information from the university.

It is not the job of the university to prevent plagiarism. The universities in Germany operate on the (unfortunately no longer valid) assumption that students learned how to write and do research and understand mathematics in high school ("Studierfähigkeit"). The universities should become more proactive about plagiarism prevention than they currently are - many just purchase software and figure they are done. They don't realize that software is only a tool and both identifies non-plagiarisms as plagiarisms and misses blatant copy & paste. I have tested such software since 2004. They need policies and they need to communicate them and they need to teach the students how to be good academics. But all this costs money, and the universities are trying to save money where ever they can. I don't want to excuse them, but help you to understand the problem.

I do encourage anyone who is confronted with something like this to take action - eventually, one hopes, the German universities will wake up to the problem and begin to deal with the very serious plagiarism problem that present today.

20

Is there any legal way for me to get the answer on the plagiarism case from this university? Shouldn’t the university be checking the translation of my thesis rather than requesting me to make an official translation? After all it’s their job to prevent plagiarism!

I am not aware of any law requiring universities to give you informations about their internal procedures (other than: “we are looking into it” or “your request has been rejected”) and would find it very odd, if one existed, as most information would be a violation of privacy regarding the accused student. Also, it is not the university’s job to totally prevent plagiarism (that’s plainly impossible, even in times of the Internet) – rather it is among the ones being damaged by this case of plagiarism.

However, if your account is accurate, the office you have been contacting is not properly dealing with your case. I would thus suggest the following steps:

  1. Compile some evidence, containing in particular the copied tables and other evidence you have that does not require somebody to speak Russian.

  2. Make sure that you have the right office. In Germany, departments often (if not always) have their own examination offices² – which you should address your request to. Also, departments usually have some professor responsible for examination issues, which is another person to contact.

    There may be legal offices for the whole universities, but these may drown the issue in bureaucracy (and I would guess that you contacted one of these). These offices are usually only loosely connected and just that one is entirely incompetent or ignores the case does not mean that another office does the same thing.

  3. If you do not get any constructive reply¹ to this (within a few days) or already did do the above, threaten to mildly escalate the situation, in particular to take this one level higher (i.e., to the faculty head) or to the student body.

  4. If this does not work, escalate the situation as described above.

  5. If this does not work either, threaten to completely escalate the situation by taking this to the university head, press, known plagiarism hunters and similar (see some of the other answers). Be aware that these are rather heavy threats and I would only advice them as a last resort.

  6. If this does not work, escalate as described above.

If your case is as clear as you are describing it, the university has much to lose about this and will not take this lightly.

To back some of this up: I am at a German university and know at least some of the administrative structures here. As academia varies much even inside Germany, this might not universally apply, but in this case you should notice quickly.


¹ Which includes “We are working on this.”
² Called Prüfungsamt, Prüfungsbüro or Prüfungssekretariat. You can usually find it by searching the web for one of these terms combined with the German word for your field (e.g., Physik for physics) and the German name of the city (e.g., München for Munich). In a full example, search for Prüfungsamt Physik München. If you can, let somebody help you searching who speaks German.

  • 5
    "the ones being damaged by this case of plagiarism" -- which in this case is prospective future employees of the student who allegedly obtained a degree fraudulently, as well as the university's other students, whose degrees are all very slightly devalued by being indistinguishable. Also the questioner, a bit, for potential loss of recognition of his work, but that's not the concern that's personal to the awarding institution... – Steve Jessop Mar 23 '15 at 14:54
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    @SteveJessop: If a blatant case of plagiarism becomes public, there may be more than a slight damage to the university’s other students, in particular those who graduated under the same supervisor. And that in turn may pose a significant damage to the university itself, as its degrees are losing value. As far as I have experienced it, German universitys were very strict with all the recent prominent plagiarism cases, and they had good reason to be, even from a purely egoistic perspective. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 15:06
17

You are treating this as a legal issue, and I am pretty sure plagiarism is an ethical issue. I am not a lawyer, but you may have a legal case that the student (and potentially the university) have engaged in copyright infringement. Copyright infringement suits are difficult enough and one centered on translated material is going to be even more difficult. The university has made the decision to ignore you. If you really want to pursue this, you are going to need a lawyer (and probably a legal translation). If your suit is successful, you might be able to reclaim the costs of the lawyer and translation as damages.

As for plagiarism, you might be able to put ethical pressure on them, especially if the plagiarised thesis is available via the university's library. You might want to check with COPE to see if they would treat the thesis as a publication and the university as the publisher.

  • 1
    In the middle ground, the OP can treat the university with a law suit for copyright infringement. – Jorge Leitão Mar 24 '15 at 19:03
  • @J.C.Leitão isn't that what my answer says? – StrongBad Mar 24 '15 at 19:19
  • I understood that you meant file a suite. I was imagining treat the suit, not necessarily start it. – Jorge Leitão Mar 24 '15 at 20:09
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    @J.C.Leitão do you mean threaten? I am not sure you can scare a university in that way. – StrongBad Mar 24 '15 at 22:23
  • Any suit would only be against the submitter of the thesis, and it would have to be published in order for a copyright case to be made. The university is not part of any copyright issues. COPE is only for journals. They have some useful flowcharts, but they are not in the business of informing universities or enforcement. – Debora Weber-Wulff Mar 31 '15 at 19:19
12

A counterpoint to responses that discourage you from pursuing it as a legal issue. All universities have very clear guidelines and policies on plagiarism, including steps and penalties for where plagiarism is discovered in a thesis. Since this is a German uni, these guidelines may be in German but you might try translating the site with Google Translator etc. and find the right documents. In any case there are most likely clear rules.

  1. Call the University Graduate School office and find out who investigates these kinds of issues. (Here in the U.S. this would be some office within the Graduate School, which is an administrative entity within the university that deals with all affairs involving graduate students and sets relevant policy. I suspect there is an equivalent in German uni's.) Make sure to find and contact the appropriate office that administers the thesis requirements, most likely they are also in charge of enforcing plagiarism policy.

  2. I like the idea of contacting the student's advisor(s) listed on their thesis. Academics tend to be highly sensitive to plagiarism claims, and since the advisors' names are on the student's thesis, it's in their best interest to care because their reputation is indirectly impacted. You need to get this point across to them. However, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to confirm your claim of plagiarism. So attach your thesis (in Russian), as well as any official-looking forms that confirm that it was published earlier than their student's thesis. Also include clear page numbers for the numerical tables that you mention, so they can verify the duplication even without knowing the language. When you email them, also "cc" the appropriate office at the university's Graduate School. Do this in parallel with your attempts to reach their Graduate School directly about this issue.

Overall, you need to educate yourself about the university's rules as much as you can so you can give the impression that you know what you are doing in pursuing this matter. Also, make sure to say explicitly that you will not cease to complain until this matter is resolved with official investigation. In other words you want them to understand very clearly that the problem will not simply "go away" when you get tired of pursuing this.

Instead, tell them explicitly that if the matter is not resolved at the departmental level of their college of the Graduate School, you will be contacting the Associate Dean and the Dean of the student's college, the university's Faculty Senate, Ombudsman, and the Office of the President of the University directly (in that order). Faculty are not very fond of getting mired in administrative dirt, especially if there is a chance of long-term damage to reputation. You want to take the issue to them and make it personal, show that them that you will press on until an investigation is conducted.

As one effective strategy, you may want to have a small selection of pages (say, 3-5 total) professionally translated into the language in which the plagiarized thesis was written, and attach with your communication to advisors, etc. This will show that you are putting your money where your mouth is, and have the means to pursue it. Yes it is an expense, but if the principle is worth more to you, I encourage you to go for it. Good luck!

  • I like the idea of contacting the student's advisor(s) listed on their thesis. – See my comment here. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 15:23
  • Thanks and already noted, although I would side with @DCTLib's counterpoint. – A.S Mar 23 '15 at 15:32
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    What is the German equivalent of a graduate school? – Carsten S Mar 26 '15 at 13:39
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If you do all the stuff that everyone else said and nothing gets done then I think you should shame the University, the Student, and their Supervisor.

Post it all over the internet that the University promotes Plagiarism and gives out fake degrees.

I already know people are going to down-vote me, but It's your hard work and if you let them get away with intellectual dishonesty once they will keep doing it.

  • Be careful, the OP might get sued for defamation. – Joel Reyes Noche Mar 28 '15 at 1:24
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    Joel, if the university is too lazy to correct such a wrong in order to avoid the tarnishing of their name then I highly doubt they would sue for defamation because it would just put more attention on the inadequacies of that university and tarnish their name further. Also I don't think they can win any lawsuit if he only posts the truth of the matter. – Neil Mar 29 '15 at 0:57
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I'm not hearing anything about your own PhD advisor. (He or) She would typically also like to protect you against plagiarism; she might have informal contacts in the German university in question; and with high probability, if she contacts the German university directly, then they will listen more carefully than if you do.

Is it possible to involve your advisor in this?

6

Are you sure you have been speaking to the right people at the university? The examination office is in many cases a strictly administrative function, with little to no ability to help you in this kind of situation. They are often the people who books rooms and makes sure there are enough papers for the students to write on and such... Not exactly the right people to speak to in this case.

Does the university have a disciplinary board? Many European universities do, and they are typically required to investigate any report of academic misconduct. I would recommend trying either to contact the disciplinary board or to contact the "Rector" or "President" office at the university. They have the duty to do something in a situation like this.

  • 2
    The rector’s office is definetely not the first or even the second institution you want to contact in such a case in Germany. They are busy with administrating the whole university and will hand this to the respective department (where it belongs and which would be the right body to contact first). – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 14:23
  • You might have more up to date information about the German system than I do, but as far as I recall from working at a German university the disciplinary board was a part of the rectors office... But that was 10 years ago. – pehrs Mar 23 '15 at 14:31
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    That may be, but they will not be the first ones that will deal with this case as they do not have direct access to the works in question and are also not versed in the subject of the thesis. They are responsible for dealing with the issue, once it has been officially identified (and of course they are a possible body you can address when escalating things). Going to them first is somewhat like reporting a crime to a court of law instead of the police. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 '15 at 14:35
5

This is a professional issue and you are up against a large body of entrenched interests that will be publicly embarrassed should your claim prove true. Consequently, the onus will be upon you to press the issue. Legal matters are quite beside the point.

Presumably you and the alleged plagiarist are active in the same field and are subjected to the same scrutiny of your work by the same bodies. I would look to your supervisor and the department from which you earned your degree as allies and discuss your options with them. They will certainly provide better advice than we can.

Should you proceed, with or without their assistance, then I would make representation to those journals and academic platforms most closely involved with your field. You must be prepared to provide sufficient evidence and that may require expenditure of significant money because, as the accuser, it is up to you to prove your case.

Bear in mind that Stephan Ambrose obtained his masters and doctorate, and made a career with a very good living, off plagiarism. And this in the face of repeated accusations. Thus it is all but certain you will face an uphill struggle to make your point.

However, if you value the integrity of your profession you really have no other choice. You must at least make a formal written protest to the senate of the university granting the fraudulent degree and establish the trail of evidence against the perpetrator. They will do this again and the more evidence that accumulates the sooner they will be brought to account for their actions.

I would also take some pains to follow this individual's career and to press your claims at whatever institution or enterprise they end up at or pass through. Again, you must have reasonable evidence to support your claim.

You discovered this plagiarism in some fashion. Thus some evidence must exist. The thought comes to mind that a statistical analysis of the citations used in both works compared against similar dissertations in the same field might prove interesting if not conclusive. This would avoid the necessity of translation.

4

You could contact the accrediting organization (I believe it is the Wissenschaftsrat) about this problem. Granting diploma's to students who are known to have commited fraud is damaging for the value of university education

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