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Will plagiarism have political effects in Romania? Editorial in Nature

Nature’s editorial „Suspend disbelief” (Dec 5, 2012) identifies the long term lack of „an appropriately funded, meritocratic system” as the root cause for the declining low quality level of the Romanian research system.

Against this long decline background, the recent events since the access to power of USL government led by Victor Ponta are compared in the editorial with a absurdist play by Eugene Ionesco.

Proven plagiarist, Mr. Ponta has appointed a series of ministers for education and research whom themselves were accused to have extensively plagiarized. Instead of resigning „Ponta promptly ditched the committees responsible for considering the allegations, replaced them with sympathizers, and insisted that the wrong committee had judged him guilty.”

The effects of measures taken by the government in education and research are considered „likely to dismantle even more of the institutions set up to ensure meritocracy in academic appointment and funding, and will probably strip away the remaining checks against academic corruption.”

The parting question of this editorial tackles the potential political implications of this absurd situation: „… thanks in good part to the very public war on academic corruption in government, it may yet prevent the USL from winning an absolute majority. Could the issue of scientific integrity influence a general election? That would be astonishing perhaps, but not absurd.”

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