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Friday, March 30, 2012

Plagiarism revisited

My colleague and room-mate entered our office with a grin from ear to ear. He is married to a Hungarian woman who still lives there, so he visits the country a lot and keeps up with the Hungarian news. This morning the news was that the Hungarian president had been ripped of his PhD-title because he had committed plagiarism. According to the newspaper we read, 200 of the 215 pages of the thesis were somebody else's work.

My colleague did his PhD a long time ago and I am finishing mine, so this was news we liked. What we especially liked was that the university, although it had withdrawn the PhD title, did not accuse the president of plagiarism, but rather accused itself: the university had not made clear to the future president that this form of "unusual extensive copying" was not allowed when writing a PhD.

We imagined the conversation:
CEO of the university: "Sorry mr. President, but you have to hand in your degree."
Mr. President: "What?"
CEO: "You copied 200 of the 215 pages."
Mr. P.: "Is that not allowed? How could I know? Nobody éver told me! Next thing you're gonna tell me is that bribing the committee is also not admitted! I can't believe this!"

I wrote about plagiarism earlier here, but I hope the next time Dicky Gilbert accuses songwriters of plagiarism because they use C, F and G chords (and maybe even an Am7) he keeps in mind the Hungarian president - who did a bit more than inexcusably using the words "and", "but" and "is" in his thesis, thereby making it a case of plagiarism because my doctorated roommate used exactly those words in his thesis too.

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