While applying online for a job at a university in the UK, I found the following in the drop down menu for the category "nationality":
At first of course I had to laugh because I really have experienced a lot of strange questionnaires while applying for a visa for the USA but I've never seen two choices of nationality for Germans.
Later on of course I was wondering what on earth these people were thinking when they put this option into the list. They certainly cannot be THAT ignorant that they do not know that this G-country roughly in the middle of Europe has been united more than 20 years ago. So let's assume that whoever created this drop down menu has paid attention to their history lesson - what do you want to imply by that?
We are one country by choice - people who lived in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) had no freedom of speech, no freedom to travel, they lived in a totalitarian system which they did not want to keep. So do you think that more than 20 years after the reunification, they would want to be labeled to be different Germans than the "other" Germans (are they supposed to be German (West) ???). I don't come from the eastern parts of Germany but if I did I'd find this highly discriminatory. Of course we still have our problems and people in the east still get lower salaries than people in the west and we tease each other about dialects and how we deal with things (but almost all other nations do that too) and certainly there might be a few nutters who want the old system back BUT we are one nation and despite our horrible history there is one thing we can be proud of: Germany was reunited in a non-violent revolution (of course not counting all the people who have been killed while trying to leave the GDR and those who disappeared ...) and we managed to grow together after all these years of separation.
Stangely enough the unromantic me likes sunsets but only those with lots of clouds because they never look the same (compared to the beach-ocean-clear sky-sunsets from holidays which are almost identical).
And yes, I am sorting through old pictures although these are not that old - they are from Christmas 2012. Looks like we had a not so white Christmas ... (as usual). I shouldn't complain about the last winter though since it was one of the better ones (better = a decent amount of snow).
Once a year, the compost heap needs some maintenance by moving all the rotten stuff away and getting out the good earth from below. It's usually not really my favourite kind of work but today I got a little "helper". Well at least the little fellow improved my mood although he was usually roaming around where I wanted to work.
I know, you found this blog because of pictures of stave churches or some other nice destinations to go to.
So this time I have to disappoint all the travellers and bombard you with a lot of text.
Why do I bother?
In the past two years, there have been quite a few politicians in Germany who have been found out to copy their PhD theses from other sources. One dissertation had one or more copied passages on 90% of the pages and the thesis was given a "summa cum laude" (which would equal something like an A+++++++++ for those who are not familiar with the German grading system). Needless to say that this person cannot call himself Dr. anymore nor could he keep his post as minister. Despite all the evidence, there were quite some people who argued that this was just a political coup of the opposition to get rid of the (oh so great) person and that he didn't need a PhD to be a good minister and that most people have copied some reports in school (the general bagatelle argument).
Sure, you do not need a PhD to go into politics but if you cannot get one HONESTLY just leave it to other people and be decent enough to live WITHOUT that title.
Now of course you will wonder why I am so annoyed about this. I have written a thesis (PhD) which is hopefully going to be defended within the next few months. It was the worst nightmare of my life because of many reasons but I won't go into that. Scientific writing is very special and sometimes it takes me days to just write a paragraph. In short, it is very hard work and the hardest part is the introduction because you have to be so carful about citing. And for those people who are not really into this topic a citation is a reference to the original source. This does NOT mean that I can copy a sentence from somebody and put a citation behind it (I would have to mark this with quotation marks as a quote and still give the source). So again, citing means that I REFORMULATE the ideas of somebody in my own words and then give the source. Reformulating without a reference is basically plagiarism because I have not marked the text as coming from somebody else hence pretending it is my own (for a better definition see: http://copy-shake-paste.blogspot.de/2013/02/a-good-definition-of-plagiarism.html).
And yes, mistakes can happen, people might forget to cite the source or the references are in the wrong place but there is a limit to how many times this can happen to be called a "mishap". Personally I also do not care if the person left out the citation by intention or if they were just sloppy and did not cite carefully enough for too many times ... the result is the same: you have gotten a degree by using material from other people (if it was intention, it is certainly fraud and if you were just sloppy you probably are not qualified enough for a PhD). The importance lies on DEGREE .... this is not just some homework you copied or a report (which is bad enough in my opinion because that is how it starts) but you get a PhD with material you pretend is your own and possibly you get a university position afterwards and maybe even a professorship and you will be responsible for other PhD students as somebody who actually even shouldn't have that degree.
And that is where the actual case comes in ... you could even be a minister of EDUCATION. What kind of example are you then for people at the beginning of their education? You are basically telling them that cheating is ok and lying about it is good form, too. Thanks a lot! Now of course, there are lots of people who say that the case is not "as severe" as the other plagiates. Is that a criterion? You copied 80 pages and I copied just 10 so my thesis is ok but yours is definitely faked? Of course it is difficult sometimes to find out where the original comes from but this woman we're talking about copied the mistakes in the references from an uncited secondary source. So the source from which she was copying (and not referencing) cited a John Doe but the article was by Arthur Doe instead, had the wrong title for an article and used wrong authors for another article and she copied all these mistakes except for one where she replaced the wrong title with another wrong title (which shows that she has not read or looked up any of those articles and the whole text around them cannot really be her own while the original author is not cited).
My thesis is article based which means that I have to submit manuscripts to journals which publish them after being peer reviewed (and corrected a thousand times). All journals have a plagiarism detection software so I cannot afford these kind of "mistakes". Why should the minister of education keep her PhD with that kind of sloppy work (even if we do not call it INTENTIONAL plagiarism) and I have to turn around each sentence a thousand times? Don't get me wrong, I want my PhD to be completely honest and I am happy that there are these high standards so even if there were some citation mistakes they would be detected and corrected before any of my work is published or evaluated. These standards should be valid for everybody and it doesn't matter if she wrote the thesis 30 years ago or now, she still had the same rules for citing and obviously didn't follow them.
To me it is like a slap into my face if that woman can keep her PhD because it does not only show that you can get a degree with dishonest methods but it also puts all people who have a PhD into the same boat and we will have to ask ourselves if this title is worth anything at all. And in case you wonder, I purely did the degree to get a university job with focus on teaching and not to show off with it.
The tallest church in the world can be admired in Ulm (and personally I think one of the most beautiful churches as well). Although construction began in the 14th century, the cathedral (or minster) was not completed until the 19th century. It is possible to go up the steeple to a level at 143 m from which you can see the Alps on clear days.