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English translation of

The University of Hanover and the Plagiarism Case against Loukas MistelisBearbeiten

Professor Helmut Weber [one of the plagiarized authors] has kindly made his correspondence with the University of Hanover available, concerning the plagiarism accusations against Dr. Mistelis from the years 2001-2002. In connection with publishing this correspondence, it must be made clear that neither Mr. Weber nor any persons connected with the University of Hanover have initiated the current documentation on VroniPlag.  The following presents itself out of this correspondence:

Helmut Weber wrote to the dean of the Law Faculty in September 2001. A number of colleagues had contacted him and suggested that he look closely at the dissertation of Loukas Mistelis and compare it with his own. In doing so he found not only strong similarities in the "sources, selection of material, chain of reasoning, and assessment", but also numerous word-for-word copies that were either not at all referenced, or were insufficiently referenced as "cf. Weber". He included copies of both books with his letter, marking the corresponding portions of text with references to the page numbers in the other book. He requested that the dean assess the facts thus presented.

The dean wrote to Loukas Mistelis in October 2001 and requested that he comment both back to the dean and to Helmut Weber. Loukas Mistelis replied in November 2001, but only to the dean. In his reply he notes that there are numerous references to Weber in his thesis and denies "that I took passages of the dissertation from Helmut Weber without a proper reference in the footnotes. Should the odd similarity be found, these are not intentional." If "the odd reference should be missing in the footnotes or the text, this was just an oversight".

The case was discussed in the Professorium in December 2001. (The Professorium consists of all the professors and the other members of the faculty with the second dissertation, the habilitation. It is not an official body of the university and thus has no decision-making powers.) This group expressed a desire to not initiate a formal investigation, but to obtain a solution to the issue that would be mutually agreeable by the participants. The dean explained this situation to Helmut Weber in January 2002 and requested that a mutually agreeable solution be found in a direct communication with Loukas Mistelis.

Helmut Weber informed the dean in February 2002 that Loukas Mistelis had not yet contacted him. He listed a number of examples in which the work of Mistelis and his own work were completely or almost completely identical without being clearly delineated. Among these are Fragment_027_06 and Fragment_085_05. He noted that "only very few samples, restricted to the books that I currently have available in my office," suffice to demonstrate that the copying was not just from his own work. He specifically mentioned portions taken from Grundmann (Fragment_168_12), Heyn (Fragment_215_12), and Boguslawskij (Fragment_170_11). This only served to reinforce his impression that this thesis was "to a not insignificant extent, a collage of set pieces". Additionally he referred to § 4 (2) 3 of the rules governing dissertations (Promotionsordnung). (These rules mandate a binding declaration that "only the named sources were used and that word-for-word or paraphrased portions of the compilation be clearly marked"). As the "minimal solution" from the point of view of copyright, he required that a clarifying statement be pasted into all published volumes of the thesis. He requested that the dean initiate formal proceedings, as set out in number 8 of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) recommendations for good scientific practice from 1998, or some other suitable procedure.

The dean informed the Ethics Committee of the University in Hanover in March 2002 of the case. This body met in April 2002 and decided that the accusation was justifiable, "that Dr. Mistelis took complete sentences or paragraphs word-for-word or in slight paraphrase, without giving the source from the dissertation [of Helmut Weber]." The committee recommended that Loukas Mistelis apologize to Helmut Weber and requested that the dean communicate to Helmut Weber that the faculty stands behind the position of the ethics committee. The committee felt that the case could thus be considered closed. The idea of pasting a notice into the unsold books "did not seem effective" to the committee. The committee did not investigate copying from other theses, as this was an inquiry that "should, if necessary, be done by experts".

A new dean wrote to Helmut Weber in May 2002 in the name of the faculty and expressed his regrets about the incident. He suggested that "a competent member of the faculty [...] should write a review of Mr. Mistelis' book and, in the course of the review, discuss the scientific misconduct in a pertinent manner with selected examples."

Helmut Weber accepted this proposal and sent the prospective reviewer, upon his request, further information.

The review was never written, or rather never published.

Loukas Mistelis has to the present day not followed the recommendation of the ethics committee.

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