Montenegro’s science minister accused of plagiarism

From my post on Retraction WatchSanja Vlahovic, science minister of Montenegro, copied two-thirds of a 2010 paper on tourism from previously published work by other academics, according to the national daily newspaper Vijesti.

The newspaper compared her paper, “Destinations’ Competitiveness in Modern Tourism,” presented at the Tourism & Hospitality Management 2010 conference in Opatija, Croatia, to three previously published papers and found much of the content to be identical, without the minister acknowledging two of those papers in the bibliography.

The first chapter of her paper came from the University of Westminster’s Dimitros Buhalis’ 2000 paper “Marketing the Competitive Destination of the Future Destinations Integrated Experience for Tourists,” it says, with the only differences appearing in the final paragraph of the chapter.

Her second chapter is “almost identical” to an article the World Tourist Organisation’s 2009 paper “World Tourism Trends: Hopes for Moderate Growth in 2010,” it says. And her third chapter features parts of a paper, “Destination competitiveness: a framework for future research,” published in 2009 in Entelequia: Revista Interdisciplinar by Ramona Gruescu, Roxana Nanu and Gheorghe Pirvu.

On Sunday there were calls from other academics for the minister to step down over plagiarism.

“In normal states somebody who is caught stealing cannot be in a public function, especially not in science minister’s position,” Branka Bosnjak, an academic with the University of Montenegro and a politician for the Democratic Front party, told the paper. She called for the minister’s other academic work to be checked for plagiarism, too. Vlahovic is member of Democratic Party of Socialists.

The case triggered extensive coverage in Vijesti of the wider issues to do with Montenegro’s lack of plagiarism detection software and laws to deal with copying and pasting.

Vijesti also claimed that one of the minister’s papers that she said she published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, “Determinants and Indicators of Destinations’ Competitiveness in Modern Tourism Industries,” was nowhere to be found and the journal never heard of it.

It says the missing paper was used to help fulfill requirements of her election to professorship at the private Mediterranean University, in capital Podgorica, in 2011.

The minister replied in a statement printed by Pobjeda newspaper, saying the missing paper was published in conference proceedings elsewhere and that she had enough qualifications to be elected to professorship even without that paper.

But she did not address directly the allegations of plagiarism and she said she would not make further public statements about the case. We’ve contacted her for comment.

If the allegations are true, Vlahovic joins other European ministers who’ve recently fallen victim to copy-and-paste scandals.

This post originally appeared on Retraction Watch blog.

Mićo Tatalović

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