The public debate about plagiarism cases has led to significant uncertainty
among students concerning the question of the extent to which collaborative
work is permitted. The Department of Physics aims to clarify the issue with
the following information:
According to article § 7 paragraph 1 sentence 1 of the regulations for the
award of the academic degree of Doctor of Natural Sciences (Dr. rer nat.)
at the University of Regensburg of 18 June 2009, of the amended version of
the statutes of 26 February 2014 (PromO) the dissertation must be the
independent scientific work of the candidate.
The decision as to whether the doctoral student meets this requirement is
the responsibility of the reviewer, the examination committee and the PhD
The description of the foundations of physics requires precise and
standardized scientific language. It is therefore almost inevitable that
the description of the physical foundations in a dissertation may contain
similarities to, for example, formulations in textbooks or review articles.
Since this "similarity" is conducive to the intelligibility of the
dissertation, this is generally desirable. This localized "similarity" of
formulations is compatible with an independent scientific achievement.
However, copying text verbatim or in content in a dissertation must be
referenced as such. This is mandatory.
Research in physics nowadays is almost exclusively performed by groups of
researchers, often from outside the department, making it impossible in many
cases to ascribe all contributions accurately to individual researchers.
Such collaborative work is highly desirable in the doctoral phase and does
not constitute an obstacle to the exploitation of any derived results in a
dissertation. As detailed above, in this case the individual scientific
achievement must be recognizable. In collaborative work, in general, the
individual contribution of the doctoral student should be indicated in the
It often happens that a journal article is written and possibly published in
collaboration with other authors, before the completion of the dissertation.
In this case, often it is not possible anymore to associate particular
sections of text with a particular author. Cumulative dissertations are not
permitted by the doctoral rules. However, it is absolutely permissible, in
terms of the independence of the dissertation, to copy sentences, equations
and figures from such jointly authored text. This should be indicated by a
note in the corresponding chapter of the thesis.
If in doubt doctoral students should discuss this with their supervisor who
will make the final decision.