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German education minister stripped of doctorate

Tuesday - 2/5/2013, 4:50pm  ET

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's education minister was stripped of her doctorate Tuesday after a committee of academics concluded that she plagiarized substantial parts of her 1980 thesis, which dealt with the formation of conscience.

Annette Schavan, 57, is the second minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet to lose a doctorate after being accused of plagiarism. Former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned from his post in 2011 after it emerged he copied large parts of his doctoral thesis.

Schavan, who denied the allegations, plans to appeal the decision by Duesseldorf's Heinrich Heine University, German news agency dpa reported.

The head of the academic committee that voted 12 to two, with one abstention, to remove Schavan's doctorate Tuesday said the decision followed a thorough review of her thesis. The plagiarism allegations were first raised last year by an anonymous blogger.

Bruno Bleckmann said the minister's thesis "contains a substantial number of uncredited direct quotes from other texts."

Schavan also failed to cite the works she used in her footnotes or bibliography, leading the committee to conclude that she had "systematically and intentionally claimed intellectual achievements (...) that weren't her own," said Bleckmann.

Doctorates are highly prized in Germany, where it is not unusual for people to insist on being referred to by their full academic title. Falsely using a doctoral title is a criminal offense and can be punished with a fine or up to one year in prison.


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