When we cover plagiarism on Retraction Watch, particularly when it leads to retractions, we’re writing almost exclusively about science. But there’s a story about a retraction outside of the scientific literature that has been unfolding over the past week, and grabbing enough headlines, that we figured we should post something on it.
It was Bremen University’s Andreas Fischer-Lescano who discovered what he called “a brazen plagiarism” in German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s 2006 law thesis, according to The Guardian. The minister was already a member of parliament at the time, and had apparently used sections of newspaper articles without attribution.
Today, in another Retraction Watch exclusive, we have obtained a letter sent by a faculty member at UEL to department colleagues. It suggests that faculty there are very concerned about the toll these allegations may take on the university’s students and reputation, and are furious that senior officials have failed to keep them in the loop about any potential investigation.
Since the weekend, we’ve been trying to get more details on a somewhat mysterious retraction in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The sparse notice really only said that there were “data inconsistencies” that made the data unreliable.
On Monday, as we noted in an update to the post yesterday, we learned:
The inconsistencies related to what an individual’s lab-book recorded in terms of patients and infections. These came to light when this data was compared to hospital records, during the process of manuscript preparation. As noted, we reported our concerns about the validity of the data and following a review, there was no adequate explanation and the concerns remained.