Weber-Wulff points out that
Just looking at the CVs of some of the authors who have been exposed as plagiarists, one wonders how it would be possible for them to do research, hang out at libraries, wait forever for inter-library loans, and get everything written up, as a mere sideline to their already very demanding lives as active politicians.That is to say, these aren't folks like most PhD candidates, who are working towards a PhD near the beginnings of a hoped for career; they're more mid-career, using the PhD as a sort of stepping stone.
I have to say, something about this smells fishy.
I have to say, I haven't looked at the dissertations in question, or done the research, but from what Weber-Wulff writes, it sounds like this is far more than just a few missed quotation marks, and more substantial parts of arguments being lifted.
I think about my field, about my dissertation, and I imagine that if I'd try to lift a substantial chunk of someone's published argument without acknowledging it appropriately, my dissertation director and first reader would have seen it easily, and I would have heard about it in no uncertain terms. (Assuming that it was an early draft, maybe they would have just corrected me and chided me and such, but I can't imagine them not taking it seriously.) They certainly wouldn't have signed the paper that says that I could have a PhD, too.
But somehow, the dissertation directors of these politicians did sign those papers. (Well, I'm assuming they sign papers there, too.) Did they not notice significant plagiarism? (Are they not up on the other stuff written about their area of study? Did they not actually bother reading the dissertations?) Or did they just not care?
If these are mid-career politicians, then they're people with connections, and not, like most PhD candidates in this country at least (and I think Europe's way different, more on that later), who are pretty much full time working towards their degree (most often with some kind of part time or fellowship sort of work on the side to pay rent and eat and such).
That leads me to wonder about graduate programs accepting these folks. It's not a big leap for me to imagine that a political functionary, with connections in some party or whatever, deciding to pick up a grad degree would be welcome at a lot of grad programs. If there's money changing hands, then the political functionary is probably paying rather than being paid; and if there's no money, well then at least there's the potential benefit of having a political functionary with some connection to a school or department. So I can see where a university might welcome a political functionary, and might easily make that welcome known to its faculty.
What I'm wondering, then, is if in addition to looking carefully at the politicians, someone should be looking at the degree-granting institutions and at the dissertation directors/readers.
What's the payoff for them to have signed off or granted degrees to plagiarists?
(My vague understanding is that graduate work in most European countries is much more research based than in the US, that PhD students don't take classes, but start in PhD programs already pretty much focused in and ready to research because their bachelors' degrees are more focused on their subject area and include far less general education and such.)