With a lot of money, but without the meat of a “Magister” or “Doctor” – that was actually forbidden by law in Austria. The ghostwriting section of the University Act has been in force since October 1st. Anyone who does ghostwriting for aspiring academics or even only offers it, has since received hefty fines of up to 60,000 euros. But some agencies don’t seem to be taking the new law very seriously, possibly because they are still making a lot of money by sneaking academic degrees. This has now uncovered plagiarism hunter Stefan Weber.
Weber dared a “little social science experiment” like him reported on his blog, and has acquired the fictional identity of a Tyrolean master’s graduate. He would like to write a doctoral thesis in Austria, but without lifting a finger. Charlie Holzbauer, MA – the name of the invented student – wanted to get a doctorate with a scientific thesis on the theory of distinction of the German sociologist Rodrigo Jokisch, but without bothering to write the 150-page theoretical part of the dissertation.
Stefan Weber alias Charlie Holzbauer contacted ten agencies and private individuals. And see: Six of them agreed to act as ghostwriters. Of these six, three were again very specific financially.
A third ghostwriter offered his service much cheaper: “We would be priced […] at € 3,300 (for pure text creation). ” And: “We write the text in the correct way of quoting, etc.” Only two agencies referred to the new legal situation in their replies. “We would very much like to help you, but unfortunately this has not been allowed in Austria since October 1st,” is one answer.
With the new paragraph, the turquoise-green government actually wanted to put an end to the proliferation of agencies that have made a lot of money with ghostwriting offers in recent years. Agencies were able to offer their ghostwriting service almost without risk. “We guarantee you 100% discretion and reliability.” This or something like that was the name of the invitations. Business flourished. The government wanted to put an end to the flourishing thesis market. Only apparently that has not really reached those affected.
“So far, the ghostwriting business seems to have been relatively unimpressed by the new Austrian anti-ghostwriting paragraph,” commented Weber, who now wants to take action: “When I have time, I’ll show them all. Because the law clearly states: ‘Anyone who, under the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1, offers to produce such a work for another person or to make it available to another person must also be punished.’ ”With reference date 25. November 2021 there are still plenty of such providers – still.
For Weber at least one thing is certain: “Those who are financially well equipped do not have to write a line themselves.”