University of Konstanz withdraws doctorate

Investigation of plagiarism allegations of a dissertation at the Department of Law concluded

In its meeting on the afternoon of May 10, 2011, the Promotion Committee of the Department of Law at the University of Konstanz decided to withdraw a doctorate that had been conferred at the University of Konstanz. After an extensive examination of the thesis, the Committee came to the conclusion that significant parts of the thesis portray plagiarism. After the deadline for the collection of opinions expired, the Promotion Committee of the department met again this week.

The review of the thesis "Regulation in Mobile Communications" by Ms. Veronica Sass was initiated after the University of Konstanz had received knowledge of the allegations on February 14, 2011. This review is subject to the usual procedure at the University of Konstanz, which applies to all allegations of plagiarism that the University is aware of: After having received the allegations, the Department of Law was immediately informed. The spokesman of the department convened the Promotion Committee and presides over it. The Promotion Committee of the Department of Law immediately launched proceedings after having received the notification in mid-February. The course of the investigation was based on the Administrative Procedure Act for the state of Baden-Württemberg (LVwVfG). This specifies the processes, such as appropriate deadlines and the right to give a statement. Moreover, the University commission „Responsibility in Science“ was fully informed of the progress of the investigation.

The doctoral degree was withdrawn because at the time, the legal requirements for its award did not exist," said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Ruediger, Rector of the University of Konstanz, on the decision of the Promotion Committee with reference to the rules of scientific integrity. In the case of a doctorate, scientific integrity means that the thesis is an independent scientific contribution to the progress of a subject. "When submitting the thesis at the University of Konstanz, each student declares that he/she wrote the work him-/herself and other written literature is designated as such. If this principle of scientific integrity is violated, it is the University’s responsibility to enforce it," Ruediger added.

The University of Konstanz did not confirm the name of the author as well as detailed information on the dissertation in the past, since Ms. Veronica Sass is not a person of public interest. This status of her person has not changed. However, in recent weeks amid great public interest, it became generally known that the dissertation written by her, which was the subject of her doctoral examination procedure at the University of Konstanz, is exposed to plagiarism allegations.