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Mikolaj: It's up to university to decide on Zmajkovičová's diploma thesis

Universities themselves are responsible for whether a diploma thesis or dissertation is approved based on the given requirements, said Education Minister Ján Mikolaj (Slovak National Party, SNS) on Wednesday, in reaction to claims that Smer MP Renáta Zmajkovičová gained her law degree thanks to plagiarism.

Universities themselves are responsible for whether a diploma thesis or dissertation is approved based on the given requirements, said Education Minister Ján Mikolaj (Slovak National Party, SNS) on Wednesday, in reaction to claims that Smer MP Renáta Zmajkovičová gained her law degree thanks to plagiarism.

The Pravda daily stated on November 14 that Zmajkovičová copied around 20 paragraphs of the law on parliamentary discussion protocol and inserted them into her diploma thesis without sourcing them in the bibliography. Mikolaj said he did not want to send an inspection team to the university over the issue. He said he would instead wait for the decision of the university management. At the same time, he said that he refuses to drag politics into the academic world and views the case as a political one.

Zmajkovičová herself claims that she may have made a "technical error" in the thesis, which she completed at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica in 2008. According to Mikolaj, if somebody forgets to state part of a directive used in a text as a quotation, this isn't plagiarism. "We can talk about plagiarism when you steal an idea, copy the thesis from somebody else or use [somebody else's] research results," he told the TASR newswire. In his view, Zmajkovičová made a mistake, but not such a serious one as if she had copied the thesis from somebody else. "It is up to the university to assess whether this is a serious violation or only a technical error that can and does occur," he added.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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