Case 25 was not a dissertation, but a textbook on scientific methodology for law students. The publisher, a respected German publisher, withdrew the book from the market within hours of seeing the documentation on the VroniPlag Wiki. Since the publisher's association in Germany has been publicly fighting against "piracy" on the internet, it doesn't look too good to be having such a blatant plagiarism in one's program. No need to have long, drawn-out meetings to hem and haw about the situation. Anyone who can read can see the large amounts of plagiarism, including many fragments from the Wikipedia. Swift action was needed, and taken.
There has been a long and very fruitful discussion on the forums page of the VroniPlag Wiki. The main author first published a statement saying that he would investigate how the plagiarism happened. The editor responsible for the legal publications also joined in. They discussed whether it would have been useful to inform the publisher first, before going online with the documentation. Many people were upset with the main author's need to investigate at all, feeling that he should know what he wrote.
There was then a second statement in which the main author has taken responsibility for the debacle, giving the following reasons:
- Many of the texts had been used in their department for years, they never thought to check for plagiarism.
- They had a number of "young students" in the department help them write. Because of an "error", the preface was not printed that would have thanked them for their work. These texts were also not checked.
- In order to make the text "readable" they had removed some footnotes.
The dissertation is more of the same, a patchwork of texts -- including the Wikipedia -- taken with minor changes. This raises the question if this is perhaps a serial plagiarist at work? As soon as the plagiarism in the text book was made public, the home pages of the second and third author were quickly blanked out. Good thing the Internet Archive exists, it is hard to remove something quickly from the Internet. The University of Münster needs to answer some serious hard questions: Why was this thesis awarded the university prize (with 7500 € !) in 2009? Why are there two plagiarisms in the same department? Is there more? How can the university teach students not to plagiarize, when some teachers seem to find it okay?
It will be interesting to see how this continues.