Plagiarism allegations against Franziska Giffey: first referee of doctoral thesis is silent

After plagiarism allegations
:First referee of Franziska Giffey’s dissertation is silent

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Their reputation is at stake: Family Minister Franziska Giffey.

Their reputation is at stake: Family Minister Franziska Giffey.


Paul Ponizak

Berlin –

That may be enough: The dissertation of Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) is now being examined by Freie Universitt (FU) Berlin. But the VroniPlag Wiki platform has not yet completed its investigations. There is obviously not excited about the fact that the mirror end of last week went with the message to the public, the popular SPD minister is under plagiarism.

Giffey wrote a dissertation alongside the job

“We still have a bit of work ahead of us,” said a member of VroniPlag Wiki on Monday the Berliner Zeitung. She does not want to read her name in the newspaper, but her identity is known to the Berliner Zeitung. According to their information, the work is about half checked.

Franziska Giffey submitted her dissertation on October 30, 2009; on February 16, 2010, the so-called Disputation took place. This is a scientific review interview, after which the doctoral students may then lead their title. At the end of 2010, Giffey became district councilor in Neuklln.

In addition to her job as a civil servant, she wrote her doctoral thesis during an extra-occupational Ph.D. program in political science at the Otto Suhr Institute of the Free University. Former Neuklln Mayor Heinz Buschkowsky had made Giffey the European Commissioner of his district in 2002. The topic of her dissertation is also in line with this activity: “Europe’s way to citizens – The European Commission’s policy on civil society participation.”

Plagiarism allegations will be investigated

The first reviewer of the work was the FU policy professor Tanja Anita Brzel. She did not want to comment on the matter on Monday. Giffey himself does not want to say anything about her doctorate until the FU has completed her exam. She merely stated that she had worked on her doctorate in accordance with “best knowledge and conscience”.

If that’s enough, you can watch live on the VroniPlag Wiki website. The work of Giffey is still listed under the abbreviation Dcl and not with the real name of the minister. This shows that the platform’s experts have not yet completed the exam. According to the website, plagiarism was found on 49 out of 205 pages.

For many passages of the long work there is no sighting by a second person, said the employee of VroniPlag Wiki. According to her, Franziska Giffey’s 266-page dissertation has been under scrutiny for about half a year.

FU wants to initiate proceedings soon

From whom the tip came, she could not say. “We do not keep a book on that.” She confirmed that the employee, who chose the pseudonym “Robert Schmidt”, has a leading role. “Robert Schmidt” had at the time also examined the dissertation of Annette Schavan. He has given the Sddeutsche Zeitung a written interview on the Giffey case in which he says that Giffey has written off “to a considerable extent”.

The VroniPlag Wiki platform is run by volunteers, many of whom are scientists themselves. But everyone can join in. The activists have no commercial interest, they call the quality of teaching as their motivation.

The Free University wants to “initiate a procedure shortly,” said FU President Gnter M. Ziegler about his spokesman. Giffey had asked for it in a letter to Ziegler last Thursday. The FU presidium had previously received a notice that the anonymous investigation on VroniPlag Wiki was about the work of the minister. How long the procedure will take, could not say yet.

Plagiarism allegations recall past case

The FU just ended another procedure a few days ago. At the beginning of February, she announced that she would withdraw the doctorate from Reinickendorfer CDU member of parliament Frank Steffel. Steffel’s work had been studied by plagiarism hunter Martin Heidingsfelder, who co-founded VroniPlag and in 2011 divorced in the dispute.

Heidingsfelder had informed the FU of its suspicions in November 2017. He said that Steffel copied extensively from at least three sources without identifying it as quotes. Through its own research, the Berliner Zeitung found four other sources that Steffel had not identified as quotes. Steffel has announced that he wants to sue against the withdrawal. (with fred.)