Plagiarism in Aschbacher dissertation: Resignation demands |


This is what the “plagiarism hunter” Stefan Weber writes in his blog. Weber had previously attested her diploma thesis from 2006 “Plagiarism, false quotations and insufficient knowledge of German”. Science Minister Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) wants to wait for the examination by the FH Wiener Neustadt. On Saturday, however, he recalled the case of a German minister who resigned after similar allegations.

The fact that the qualification work of politicians is the focus of media attention is nothing new, said Faßmann at a press conference on Saturday, when asked about the plagiarism allegations against his party colleague. “I spontaneously think of Guttenberg, who was hit very hard,” said Faßmann, referring to the German CSU politician Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned as defense minister in 2011 after his doctorate was withdrawn. The University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, where Aschbacher wrote her thesis, has chosen the right approach and is now examining the case. Presumably there will be an external assessment. We have to wait for the results, said the science minister. For the time being there is no statement from the Federal Chancellery.

The dissertation consists of 21 percent plagiarism

Weber checked the dissertation, which Aschbacher had submitted to the Technical University of Bratislava during her time as minister in May 2020, using software to detect plagiarism. Accordingly, the text consists of 21 percent plagiarism, i.e. text passages that were taken from other sources without showing them as quotations. “That is a very high figure,” says Weber, who also assumes a significantly higher number of unreported cases because of the “systematic obfuscation” of indirect quotations.

  • Video: Plagiarism allegations against Aschbacher

Aschbacher had already sent a message through her spokesman on Friday that she had worked “to the best of her knowledge and belief” – we reported. The diploma thesis was submitted to the FH Wiener Neustadt in 2006 and was given a “very good”. In both this and the dissertation submitted to the Technical University of Bratislava, the supervisors were professors recognized in the community and in whose judgment she continued to trust.

“Assumptions are like barnacles on the side of a boat”

However, numerous questionable passages had already been discovered on Friday in the dissertation on the subject of “Drafting a Management Style for Innovative Companies”, which can be accessed online. At one point, Aschbacher gives a “Forbes” article translated into German. Including the striking statement: “Assumptions are like barnacles on the side of a boat; they slow us down.” She cites the article in the US business magazine as a reference in a footnote. However, she makes the claim from the original author’s statement that he has worked with hundreds of teams in the course of his career: “This dissertation worked with hundreds of teams (…).”

FPÖ calls for Aschbacher’s resignation

On Saturday, the FPÖ demanded the withdrawal of the academic title and the resignation of the minister. “The Chancellor must immediately initiate the resignation of his minister in order to avert further damage to the republic,” demanded FPÖ General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz in a broadcast. The dissertation reads as if it had been written by a ghostwriter with a non-German mother tongue or by a translation program. In a parliamentary question, he also wants to find out from Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) whether the deficiencies identified by the “Commission for Scientific Integrity” for 2019 in qualifications at a “university in a neighboring country” with a cooperation agreement in Austria will be investigated.

The SPÖ also called for resignation at the weekend – including from the National Council member Max Lercher: “In any case, it doesn’t work that way if you ask normal people to always do more and then cheat yourself.”



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