Why Bother with Misconduct when Bribes will do?

I had no idea there was a cottage industry helping grad students obtain their PhDs:

… students paid between euro4,000 to euro20,000 ($5,700 to $28,500) to the company [Institute for Scientific Consulting], which promised to help them get their doctorate degrees through its extensive contacts within university faculties … the company paid professors between euro2,000 to euro5,000 when their clients had successfully received their PhDs. It was not clear whether the students knew that bribes were being paid. … evidence points to the involvement of about 100 professors across the country spanning “numerous disciplines” … [and] involved universities in Frankfurt, Tuebingen, Leipzig, Rostock, Jena, Bayreuth, Ingolstadt, Hamburg, Hannover, Bielefeld, Hagen, Cologne and Berlin.

Now, the only prosecuted case thus far in this massive scandal is a Hanover law professor, “who helped students obtain a degree in exchange for financial or sexual favors” (for which he was sentenced to 3 years in prison). The AP reports that this professor “confessed in court to accepting nearly euro200,000 [$264,000] to serve as a faculty adviser to more than 60 doctorate students between 1998 and 2005. The professor said he needed the money to renovate his Hamburg mansion.”

Don’t we all.


  1. Eskimo said

    Is it for any other areas other than law?

    • writedit said

      I assume so, particularly given the company’s name (Institute for Scientific Consulting) and the numbers of professors and universities involved, but we’ll have to wait for more details.

  2. whimple said

    To answer the title question, “why bother with misconduct when bribes will do?”: bribes cost money while misconduct makes money. Bribes aren’t really sustainable, but you can do misconduct forever (at least if you’re really good at it).

  3. Maximilian said

    I bet that most of these cases are related to law and business studies. I don’t believe that there are too many in the “hard” sciences…

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