Laura Huhtasaari, a deputy chairperson of the Finns Party, has brushed off the plagiarism accusations surrounding her master’s thesis as a witch hunt.
“It does feel like an intentional witch hunt when your 15-year-old master’s thesis is scrutinised for already the third time. I’m certainly thinking about my legal protection at this stage,” she commented in an interview with Satakunnan Kansa on Wednesday.
YLE reported earlier yesterday that as much as 30 per cent of her master’s thesis appears to have been copied, without giving credit, from a single source: the master’s thesis of Tiina Simpanen.
Huhtasaari, whose thesis was accepted by the University of Jyväskylä in 2003, was accused of plagiarism also during her presidential campaign earlier this year. The accusations prompted a preliminary review by the University of Jyväskylä, which concluded that while she had violated academic rules by copying portions – roughly 10 per cent – of her thesis, her violation was not serious enough to warrant a more thorough inquiry.
“The idea of a literature review is to demonstrate that you’ve familiarised yourself with the subject field and previous studies. I personally conducted all the semi-structured interviews. I remember how it took a long time to transcribe them,” Huhtasaari told Satakunnan Kansa.
“The idea is to use information that already exists, not to create something of your own. I tried to follow the instructions I was given at the time,” she added.
Professors Marita Mäkinen and Veli-Matti Värri of the University of Tampere examined the similarities between the theses of Huhtasaari and Simpanen at the request of YLE.
“There’s no denying the plagiarism in the thesis of Huhtasaari. Anyone who has dabbled in academic writing can see that,” they stated in their written reply to the public broadcasting company.
They considered it particularly condemning that signs of plagiarism were found also in the chapter where the research results were presented.
“The results therefore include conclusions that were drawn based on work by someone else, even though it seems that the researcher had personally interviewed all the informants for her research. This kind of activity seems almost like stealing results,” said Mäkinen and Värri.
They also underlined that they do not want to dispute the work of their colleagues at the University of Jyväskylä: “It is extremely difficult to substantiate this kind of plagiarism of second-hand sources, especially at the time [of publication] – in the early 2000s – when universities had yet to adopt systems for detecting plagiarism.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi