Government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács may have written the same dissertation twice

July 29, 2017

Government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács (pictured) submitted two nearly identical theses to the University of Debrecen and to Central European University, reports

Kovács has often accused the Central European University (CEU) of having an unfair competitive advantage over Hungarian universities because it provides two degrees (an American and a Hungarian) to graduates. But Kovács was himself a student of CEU in addition to the University of Debrecen and, according to the Jobbik-tied Alfahír news site, the two theses he submitted to the universities are nearly identical.

Kovács wrote both of his dissertations on the political image of the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom in 18th-century England, the titles of which were:

  1. Anglo-Austrian diplomatic relations and the political image of the Habsburg Monarchy in mid-eighteenth century England
  2. The political image of the Habsburg Monarchy in mid-eighteenth century England

The former is the title of Kovács’s University of Debrecen dissertation, the latter is the title of his CEU thesis. Although Alfahír could not legally disclose details of the dissertations, the radical-right news site listed some similarities between them.

  • The University of Debrecen dissertation is 211 pages long, the CEU thesis is 204 pages long
  • The table of contents is identical in both dissertations
  • Kovács discusses certain topics for the same length in the two dissertations, and various chapters are identical in length – the biggest difference is five pages
  • Most of the source literature Kovács used in his CEU dissertation can be found as a source in his University of Debrecen thesis too
  • The illustrations are identical in both dissertations

Alfahír alleges that there is no new research material in Kovács’s CEU dissertation.

Index contacted Kovács to find out whether he thinks it was ethical and in accordance with academic rules to hand in two nearly identical dissertations. Index also asked Kovács if he had notified CEU that he had already written a dissertation on the same topic at the University of Debrecen, to which Kovács reacted:

“The Alfahír news site invented the wheel again in their article today: all of my public professional CVs include the fact that in accordance with the then-applicable procedural and academic rules I defended my Ph.D. title in both the CEU’s American system, and the University of Debrecen’s and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Hungarian system on the same topic. Before someone writes down nonsense and makes an idiot of themselves, I recommend learning the facts.”