Plagiarism in doctoral theses as 'occupational risk' of government ministers? The debate on good academic practice in German doctoral education in the light of high-profile plagiarism cases
This paper uses two high-profile cases of alleged plagiarism in doctoral theses to discuss the debate on academic malpractice in the German context. The two cases received intense media attention which led to a hitherto unseen interrogation of academic standards in higher education and of the integrity of the research community. The paper analyses this debate and highlights structures and developments in German higher education that potentially explain academic malpractice. The focus of the analysis is on postgraduate education and the way doctoral supervisees are inducted by their supervisors into good academic practice. The paper also discusses the notion of "academic relativism regarding standards of academic practice that, while permissible in a certain era, are not acceptable today. Against this background, the paper argues in favour of a critical evaluation of the ways in which the German higher education sector has become the subject of narrowly defined aspects of performance management regimes, regulating institutions and incentivising researchers.