The Prime Minister of Luxembourg admitted that there were serious shortcomings in his dissertation before a French university, after a local publication found that only two of the 56 pages of academic work were original. According to Xavier Bethel, who has been in office since 2013, the work was written “according to what I knew then and what I believed in”, but from today’s point of view I could – should – have done it differently way “.
It is a dissertation with which Bethel completed a master’s degree at the University of Lorraine more than 20 years ago. Journalists from Reporter.lu have now reviewed it and found that three quarters of the text is “an impressive mess of copied passages that does not meet academic requirements.”
This week, the 48-year-old prime minister said that in 1999 he had full confidence in the University of Nancy to assess whether his work met the standards and that he would “naturally accept” the management’s decision if he annulled his master’s degree.
“We take seriously cases where there is a breach of scientific integrity and will investigate the content of the dissertation. The possible sanctions that the university may impose depend on the findings of this investigation,” a statement from the University of Eastern France said in a statement. It added that at the time “we were not equipped with the current plagiarism detection software”.
The topic is “Towards a possible reform of the voting system in the European Parliament” and, according to Reporter.lu, extensive passages have been copied without quoting from two books, four websites and a press article.
“Only a few paragraphs in the Introduction” and “an equally short text in the Conclusion” have not been completely copied, the journalists write. According to them, this is a case of plagiarism “unprecedented in scale” and the conclusion is not only the publication, but also confirmed by independent experts:
– as many as 20 pages of the thesis have been directly downloaded from the website of the European Parliament in violation of the copyright notice
– 9 pages are from a 1998 report by a Greek MEP.
– the other copied passages are from a standard textbook for introduction into the system of the EU institutions.
“The plagiarism I found is very problematic because long passages are copied word for word. You can’t accidentally copy whole pages,” Lena Hogenauer, a professor of political science at the University of Luxembourg, was quoted as saying by Reporter.lu.
Her colleague Nicolas Soge of the University of Sciences Po in Paris commented that Bethel’s work was not original, that no proper research had been done and that plagiarism was “too great to be justified”.
Etienne Cricky, who was Bethel’s research supervisor, said the standards were different before the introduction of plagiarism detection software.
This is another similar scandal with famous politicians in Europe, reminds “Guardian”. The worst affected is Germany, where Francisca Giffi, the family’s minister, was forced to resign in May after allegations of plagiarism in her doctoral dissertation. In 2013, the same thing happened to Education Minister Annette Shavan resigned after the University of Dusseldorf stripped her of her doctorate. In 2011, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Gutenberg resigned for the same reason.
Photo: © Dati Bendo, EC – Audiovisual Service