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Pavo Barisic, a Science Minister and a former philosopher at University of Split, was accused of plagiarism in his article. The highest-level research ethics committee found Mr. Barisic copied a text from another scholar’s paper. After finding plagiarism, the committee wanted him to step down. Although, he denied accusations and showed absolutely no intention to abdicate.

Plagiarism accusations happened soon after his appointment to the post in 2016. That quickly became public and media claimed that he wrote an article without giving attribution to other scholars. The article was published in Synthesis Philosophica in 2008. Plagiarism was noticed earlier, after the article was published, and in 2011 the accusations became more obvious when some other philosophers pointed at the lifted parts. A special Committee for Ethics in Science and Higher Education proceeded with investigation.

The Committee reported about the part of text copied from the  blogpost of an American specialist in international affairs, Stephen Schlesinger. Yet this case was not the only one, and Mr.Barisic highlighted the main ideas of the American political scientist Samuel Huntington, and this time also without a proper attribution, yet there was no final Committee’s decision constituting plagiarism.

Mr. Barisic’s Commenting on the Situation

Pavo Barisic absolutely denied any plagiarism in his article. That was an unhealthy reaction as a lot of Croatian and foreign scientists claimed an obvious plagiarism and wanted to him to resign. Still, the University of Split denied any plagiarism accusations and found them wrong and groundless. That even caused a resign of the head of the Committee for Ethics in Science and Higher Education, Vlatko Silobrcic.

Not long before, Mr. Barisic took his words back and changed his position saying that he lifted and added some parts of text to his work without attribution. Yet, he persistently claimed that was probably “a typographic error”. He also specified that since the first article publication, some changes were brought and in 2011 the article already contained attribution to Schlessinger. Some other versions of one and the same article contained attribution to Huntington as well. However, the publication Nature asked for commenting on the changes in the articles.

Other Scientists’ Opinion

Sasa Zelenika, Croatia’s assistant science minister 2012-2014, expressed an opinion as for Pavo Barisic’s resignation due to his misleading public actions. Ivan Dikic, a biochemist at Goethe University even wrote a letter to a prime-minister of Croatia saying that Mr. Barsic does not really have the right to continue being a Science Minister anymore.

There is also a reverse side of the coin, and many Mr. Barisic’s colleagues, 100 scientists signed an open letter where they treated his plagiarism as a “small omission”.

The University of Split plagiarism scandal drew too much of public attention, yet that is an ordinary professor plagiarism accusation, almost the same as the one happened in the University of Leeds.

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