The University of Jyväskylä said Tuesday that its decision to initiate a new probe into the master’s thesis authored by Finns Party MP and vice president Laura Huhtasaari was driven by an attempt to determine the credibility of new suspicions of violations concerning the work.
According to the guidelines of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK, the investigation must use the external experts to review the thesis and the author, Huhtasaari must also be heard. It is estimated that the enquiry will take several weeks and could stretch for up to three months. The university has called for the experts to be allowed to conduct their work without disruption.
The institution conducted a prior review of Huhtasaari’s master’s thesis following claims that parts of the research had been plagiarised. At the time, it found that while there was some “borrowing” it was minor. The issue resurfaced last week, when Svenska Yle reported that the thesis contained considerably more plagiarism than the university’s initial review suggested.
High threshold for rescinding degree
Following the media reports, the university said that a private individual reached out to request an enquiry to determine whether ethical research practices had been violated. The institution’s lead legal counsel Sanna Anttilainen previously told Yle that it is unlikely that Huhtasaari will be stripped of her degree even if any evidence of plagiarism is found.
She added that there is a high threshold for such an outcome.
“It is pointless to begin speculating. Rescinding a degree would involve an administrative decision, which would mean that a ruling would have to come from the Supreme Administrative Court. Because the issue involves a very old case, there would have to be very weighty reasons for it to even be investigated,” she said last week following the new revelations by Svenska Yle.