Romanian Interior Minister Faces Plagiarism Probe

An Education Ministry panel is to rule on whether Interior Minister Petre Toba copied some of his doctoral thesis from papers posted on the internet by others.


Romania's Interior Minister is accused of plagiarising his PhD
Romania’s Interior Minister is accused of plagiarizing his PhD


Romania’s National Ethics Council, an Education Ministry panel, is to analyse this week if Toba plagiarised material for his PhD thesis, after media reports alleged that he used papers posted on the internet without crediting their authors. Last week, online publication published a report claiming that 250 out of a total of 390 pages of Toba’s doctoral thesis were identical or almost identical to other people’s work.

The Interior Minister denied any wrongdoing, and said he wrote his PhD thesis based on his professional experience as the chief of police. Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos asked the Education Ministry to analyse the plagiarism accusations against Toba, stressing that integrity is important for his recently-appointed cabinet.

The low ethical culture in Romania’s educational system has been highlighted by other top-level plagiarism scandals. In May 2012, Education Minister Ioan Mang resigned as a result of a row over his alleged plagiarism of scientific papers.

Last year, former Prime Minister Victor Ponta decided to give up his PhD in law, after controversy over its authencity. The row erupted in June 2012 when the science journal Nature said that documents presented by a whistleblower showed that substantial sections of Ponta’s PhD thesis were identical, or almost identical, to material in monographs written by other Romanian legal scholars.

Two scientific bodies charged with checking the authenticity of scientific works confirmed the Nature report and called for Ponta to be stripped of his PhD. However, in July 2012, the National Ethics Council announced that the PM did not plagiarize his thesis, saying that it was written in accordance with the academic standards of the time at which it was published, in 2003.

Ponta, who said his only mistake in writing his thesis was not to credit all the sources in the footnotes, but only in the bibliography, insisted that the charges were politically orchestrated. In May 2014, Romania’s Supreme Court ruled that Ponta would not be investigated for plagiarism. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are endemic in Romania. After the overthrow of the Communist regime in 1989, a large number of private universities and institutes opened, offering what some say are dubious qualifications.

Balkan Insight 

30 November 2015