A months-long academic investigation has found that much of the work Laura Huhtasaari submitted for her masters degree was copied from someone else.
The University of Jyväskylä launched an investigation in May and appointed an independent expert from Helsinki University, Professor Patrik Scheinin, to look at accusations the Finns Party deputy chairperson had plagiarised significant parts of her masters thesis.
Huhtasaari, who ran for President in January but failed to get above 10% of the vote, refused to let Professor Scheinin use software to check her 15 year old masters thesis for plagiarism.
Today, the results of Scheinin’s three month investigation concluded that up to 80% of Huhtasaari’s thesis conclusions about multicultural teaching had been copied without attribution from elsewhere.
The report finds Huhtasaari used whole pages from other source material, and passed it off as her own, without giving adequate references. Scheinin wrote that lack of quote marks in the thesis made it unclear what had been copied and what might have been Huhtasaari’s own original work.
A History Of Questionable Writing
This is not the first accusations of plagiarism that Huhtasaari has faced.
While some instances of Huhtasaari’s apparent plagiarism at that time seem to be copied from online news stories; other blog posts were lifted directly from the writing of National Coalition Party MP Wille Rydman, considered to be on the right of his party’s ideology.
In January, fresh plagiarism accusations hit her presidential campaign after Tiainen dug up Huhtasaari’s masters thesis.
It was only available in paper form, but once it was scanned, Tiainen used his own algorithm as well as commercially available plagiarism detection software to run comparisons.
“It’s really easy to notice her form. All the simple sentences are her own. It really seems like she has trouble writing academic text, so she has plagiarized because it doesn’t seem like she has the capability to write these texts on her own” he told News Now Finland at the time.
In April, the University of Jyväskylä announced the results of a previous preliminary investigation into plagiarism which found up to 10% of the 15-year old thesis had not followed “good scientific practice” but that it didn’t amount to anything particularly serious, according to university rector Keijo Hämäläinen.
However, in early May another investigation by a journalist at state-funded broadcaster YLE alleged that up to 30% of Huhtsasaari’s work had been copied – spelling errors and all – from another student’s 2001 thesis, which is not cited as a source for Huhtasaari’s work.
It was these May allegations which prompted the most recent in-depth investigation, and which have now revealed more extensive plagiarism.
The Finns Party politician has vigorously defended herself on social media throughout the various investigations, and her supporters have called it a political witch hunt.
Today she wrote on Twitter “15 years ago when I was writing my master’s thesis I tried to follow the instructions I was given, and did not deliberately deceive”.