12

In Germany there is a wiki-like webpage that investigates PhD theses for plagiarism: http://de.vroniplag.wikia.com/

On this webpage PhD theses that are suspected of plagiarism are investigated by an online community. Anybody can contribute in an anonymous way. For the thesis manuscripts that are investigated there is an indication of plagiarized text for each page.

My question is: are there any such initiatives in other countries? And would that make sense?

13

I am not aware of initiatives in other countries. However, while VroniPlag started out with examinations of German doctoral theses, it is no longer limited to those. Today, it investigates suspected plagiarism in PhD theses written in Spain, Ireland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Italy. To the extent that this is a continuing trend, VroniPlag already is an international project.

So the answer to the question in your title (which differs from that in the body), whether online community investigations of PhD thesis plagiarism outside Germany exist, is yes.

8

There is an analogous project in Russia called Dissernet (http://www.dissernet.org/). They mostly investigate theses and books "written" by Russian politicians.

4

I only know the German initiatives of private persons actively searching for mistakes in citation. There are several tools for finding or measuring the grade of plagiarism. At my university the master and doctoral thesis are checked against Turnitin.

I can't rate the value of academic degrees in other countries than Germany. In Germany the doctoral degree can lead to a high reputation in public view, especially in the eyes of the elderly. One could hold a doctorate in "collecting stamps" and gain a prestige like one could be asked every question about our complex world.

Especially in the case of unpopular politicians (e.g. zu Guttenberg) their relatives (e.g. Veronica "Vroni" Saß) or economists (e.g Margarita Mathiopoulos), private initiatives work hard to find mistakes or unethical behavior in connection to their thesis, to undermine their public reputation.

I can imagine that in countries where personal attributes and charsima play a bigger role than overrated degrees, initiatives like Vroniplag are of less public interest.

  • "In Germany the doctoral degree can lead to" being asked all kinds of medical questions, because, colloquially, "Doktor" is often used as a synonym for "Arzt" (physician), "especially in the eyes of the elderly" :o) – JimmyB Jul 1 '15 at 12:52
  • Surely, you mean "where overrated personal attributes and charisma play a bigger role than overrated degrees" ;) – O. R. Mapper May 10 '17 at 16:35

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