Back in March 2007 Ohio University announced the conclusion to their plagiarism investigations with the revocation of one degree and a quote from Dr. Koonce: "I see no need to investigate further." In that same article, Ohio University also claimed to have examined all of the theses and dissertations approved by Drs. Mehta and Gunasekera. What Ohio University did not tell the public however, is that their Research Integrity Committee relied solely on TurnItIn.com plagiarism detection software for that examination.
It took months for Ohio University to return all of the cleared theses and dissertations to the catalog, but when they did, I began to discover numerous cases of plagiarism that were missed by their TurnItIn.com review. To show you how ineffective TurnItIn.com is at detecting plagiarism in engineering theses, I have highlighted page after page of copied text from a thesis that was cleared by TurnItIn.com and the Russ College Research Integrity Committee. You can download the plagiarism examples here. Text highlighted in blue is copied from the paper "Finite Element Simulation of the Electrochemical Machining Process" by H.A. Nied and E.M. Perry. Text highlighted in pink is copied from the book "Principles of Electrochemical Machining" by J.A. McGeough.
This is just one more case that demonstrates Ohio University's inconsistent enforcement of their policies and their willingness to sacrifice the credibility of honest students and alumni. It is incredibly deceptive for Ohio University to lead the public to believe that they checked the theses when they did not even bother to read them. Had they read the theses, they could have easily detected issues that should have warranted additional questions. Any reasonable and/or competent professor would have questioned how the student wrote with the expertise and eloquence of a professional who had years of experience in electrochemical machining.
Ohio University leaders obviously have no respect for their university, their students, their professors, and the public. They are even unfair to the cheaters. They should apologize to the student whose degree was revoked for not holding all cheating students accountable. Likewise, they should apologize to Drs. Mehta and Gunasekera for singling them out when other professors also approved theses with blatant plagiarism.
There are two other facts about this case worth mentioning.
After plagiarizing in his master's thesis, the student went on to earn a doctoral degree from Ohio University. It should not be any surprise that the student also plagiarized in his doctoral dissertation (which was approved by Dr. Alam). To show you, I highlighted some of the copied text from the dissertation in orange. The source of the copied text is the article "Why you should consider object-oriented programming techniques for finite element methods" by J.T. Cross, I. Masters, and R.W. Lewis.
The other fact of interest is that another doctoral student advised by Dr. Gunasekera submitted some of the same copied text in his master's thesis. When I complained about the plagiarism to the Ohio Board of Regents in December 2004, I enclosed excerpts of plagiarism from both theses with my letter. It should not come as a surprise that the Board of Regents did not take any real action. They did not even plan to respond to me, but they were forced to write me when Suzanne Wilder from The Post began asking questions months later. Later in 2005 Dean Irwin claimed that I had "not offered to provide other examples [of plagiarism]" when he was interviewed by Inside Higher Ed. Dean Irwin lied. I did offer to provide examples of plagiarism on September 13, 2004, but he sent me away with a threat of a lawsuit. I also know that he saw my letter to the Regents because he and Ombuds, Elizabeth Graham, reprimanded me during our January 2005 meeting for sending the letter. They both tried to assure me that student plagiarism was not my concern. President McDavis followed suit when he was interviewed by Carrie Ghose of Columbus Business First. Even though I copied President McDavis on my letter and it was distributed from his office, he "said he doesn't recall seeing it."