Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ohio University Plagiarism is not Limited to Mechanical Engineering

Most people who have followed the Ohio University plagiarism scandal probably think that Ohio University's plagiarism problems are isolated to the Mechanical Engineering department. While the ME department does have a number of professors who condone plagiarism, there is a significant amount of published plagiarism in the Ohio University's Electrical Engineering department. I will get to that some other day.

Perhaps even more important than engineering plagiarism, is the plagiarism I discovered in a Physics doctoral dissertation which was approved in 2003 by Dr. David Ingram, the chair of the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee.

Anyone can download the dissertation from the following link:

The link may not work after a few days or weeks because I reported this case to Ohio University legal affairs back on August 28, 2009.

To show how obvious the plagiarism is, I marked a few pages from the dissertation. The source of the copied material is a paper written by A. Grill. Notice that Dr. Ingram's student even copied the citations from the paper; that is a nice way for a doctoral student to do research without ever setting foot in the library.

There are many more examples of plagiarism in the dissertation. Just google search the first sentence of Chapter 2 and you will find that Dr. Ingram's student copied page after page from a website.

Some people have correctly suggested that Ohio University outsource their plagiarism investigations. Unfortunately, Ohio University leaders chose an internal person who has direct involvement in allowing plagiarism as the judge of their cases. Now I understand why Dr. Ingram approved a thesis rewrite that still contains plagiarism.


Brian Manhire said...

Thanks for linking to my letter (Plagiarism 'cancer' not so easy to cure), Tom. However, something is wrong with The Post’s archiving of it, i.e., I can’t find its publication date (only today’s date appears, and when I click on “Print this article” no date appears at all). So for clarity’s sake, I’ll add here that it was published Wednesday, May 3, 2006.

Anonymous said...

This guy is on the faculty at Western Michigan, have they been informed?

Professor X said...

Anonymous (above) asks “This guy is on the faculty at Western Michigan, have they been informed?” In 2006 the Wall Street Journal reported that another Ohio University plagiarist is a professor at Miami University of Ohio. And according to his web page he was promoted to associate professor (and presumably tenured) there last year. His plagiarism was serious enough to warrant the attention of the Wall Street Journal but apparently it has had little impact on his academic career advancement. So does plagiarism really matter anymore? It should, but in fact, does it? Instead, isn’t it just another widespread and seemingly irreversible decline in academic standards like grade inflation? Doesn’t plagiarism’s growing prevalence, especially in graduate school, accompanied by a lack of serious punitive consequences, suggest that it’s becoming more acceptable rather than loathsome? Apathy abounds and it is ushering in the accommodation of plagiarism just as it has grade inflation.

Familiar Words

Tom Matrka said...

It is also worth noting that the professor at Miami plagiarized in both his master's thesis and doctoral dissertation at Ohio University. His master's re-write has been re-cataloged. He is probably still re-writing his dissertation. Evidently, the leaders at Miami University of Ohio do not care about the backgrounds of their professors.

Professor X said...

Puttitwong (Wall Street Journal article) went on to complete a doctorate at the University of Texas in 2006.

Ekachai Puttitwong dissertation (see page 109)

Caveat Emptor said...

This sort of contagion is just what you’d expect with rewrites, which seems to be Ohio University’s blanket approach to dealing with essentially all of its plagiarists (the number of known or suspected plagiarists is now well over fifty and still climbing but only one degree has been revoked since OU’s plagiarism scandal went public in 2005).

It will eventually occur to other universities that they can protect themselves from being contaminated with OU plagiarists by simply (and tacitly) not hiring any OU Ph.D.s onto their faculties and not admitting any OU masters degree holders into their doctoral programs. After all, why should any faculty search committee (or graduate admissions committee) needlessly risk the possibility of hiring (or admitting) a plagiarist from OU when there are plenty of reputable candidates available from better schools? And whenever this happens, it will be an unspoken “plagiarism tax” unfairly borne by all honest OU alumni.

So eventually the reputation and fortunes of all OU graduate degree holders will suffer as will the reputations of those schools that inadvertently hire/admit OU plagiarists because they aren’t vigilant (because of their well-intended but misplaced trust in the academic integrity of OU). In concert with all this, graduate enrollment at OU will likely fall and/or the quality of its graduate student intake will worsen and this will fuel retrenchment in graduate study there.

The most effective and direct way to disrupt this pernicious hiring/admissions spiral is for OU to revoke the degrees it has mistakenly awarded. But so long as OU can keep its plagiarism problem quiet, it can continue to surreptitiously propagate its “repaired” (rewritten) ersatz (inferior) masters and Ph.D. degree graduates into higher education. The longer this weary and disturbing hiring/admissions syndrome continues, the more easily the perception of OU as a diploma mill will come to mind. And as OU’s plagiarists infect other universities, plagiarism will likely expand into a repeating cycle of pollution beyond OU.

At the end of the day, as a result of OU’s misguided plagiarism rewrite approach to dealing with its plagiarists, the biggest loser will be OU itself and the rest of higher education will be diminished as well.