Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rewrite Plagiarism

The Columbus Dispatch ran an article today about the case of plagiarism at Ohio State University where they revoked a doctoral degree. The article mentions my efforts to convince Ohio University leaders to act on evidence of plagiarism in a rewritten thesis. The purpose of this blog post is to summarize in one place the evidence of plagiarism as well as the letters I have written to OU officials about it.

In September 2007, Ohio University republished a supposedly rewritten thesis by Amit Adlakha. When I read the rewrite, I immediately noticed that in spite of deleting almost all of chapter 3, the student still submitted pages of plagiarized material. I know it is plagiarized because the same text was published over 15 years earlier in another Ohio University thesis.

I strongly suspect that both students copied from a software user's manual, but I have not been able to find it. Regardless, there can be absolutely no doubt that Amit Adlakha's rewrite contains plagiarism.

When I first noticed the plagiarism, I immediately emailed OU's former director of legal affairs, John Burns. A few months later, Kathy Lynn Gray from The Columbus Dispatch questioned Dean Irwin about plagiarism in a rewrite. He told her that the thesis would be "re-examined." In April 2009, I wrote to President McDavis asking him to hold accountable the professors who approved the rewrite with plagiarism. In spite of the concrete evidence of plagiarism, my allegations were dismissed without explanation. In January 2010, I wrote to Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Pam Benoit, and I provided again the concrete evidence of plagiarism in the rewrite. Once again, they dismissed the evidence. Then, I emailed Ohio University General Counsel, John Biancamano, asking for an explanation of why they accept plagiarism in Amit Adlakha's rewrite. He refused to answer my simple question.

Dean Dennis Irwin has publicly announced numerous times that thesis submissions must be accompanied by a signed statement of originality and they must be scanned for plagiarism. The Russ College website also states, "The Russ College does not tolerate plagiarism in any form." However, to this day, a rewrite containing plagiarism remains cataloged and available to the public.

Dennis Irwin and the other Ohio University leaders are liars.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ohio State University Revokes PhD

Last week I came across a very interesting article which states that Ohio State University (OSU)revoked the doctoral degree from a graduate because she plagiarized in her doctoral dissertation. You can read the Courthouse News Service article here. At the bottom of the article, you can click on the icon to see the complaint of copyright infringement filed against the student in U.S. District Court.

We already know that Ohio University's (OU's) record of dealing with plagiarism is riddled with blunders, inconsistencies, and lies; so, I think it is very interesting to note the disparity of how OSU dealt with their plagiarism case compared to OU's actions over the past 6 years.

Basically, OU handled their plagiarism problems by choosing one student and two professors to scapegoat. The rest of OU's cheating students (38 according to the last count provided by OU Counsel, John Biancamano) were allowed to keep their degrees. As I reported in previous posts, OU even allowed at least one student to republish a thesis that still contains pages of blatant verbatim plagiarism; and for almost three years now, they have refused to hold accountable the student and the professors who approved the rewrite that contains plagiarism.

On the other hand, once the OSU Committee on Academic Misconduct found that the student violated the OSU Code of Student Conduct, it appears that they never considered offering the guilty student a chance to rewrite her dissertation. In fact, OSU dealt with their guilty student very harshly. One of the sanctions was to authorize the student's dissertation committee "to retroactively invalidate the approval form approving the written portion of Ms. Nixon's doctoral examination." Another sanction was to "direct Ms. Nixon to promptly return her doctoral diploma to the University Registrar."

Ohio University leaders need to learn from OSU's example, and they need to stop polluting our higher education system with unqualified professors who fraudulently obtained their teaching positions.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Electrical Engineering Plagiarism

A few weeks ago an Ohio University graduate student asked me to provide more details of plagiarism in Ohio University Electrical Engineering theses.

In response to that request, I scanned in a few email plagiarism reports that I sent to Ohio University legal affairs.

You can download my emails here, here, and here. I am not very proficient with Adobe, so I was unable to make the font larger, but you should be able to zoom in to make it easier to read the emails.

I think the reports speak for themselves. There can be no doubt that the members of the thesis committees who approved these theses condone plagiarism, and they are in blatant violation of Ohio University's Professional Ethics requirements. While reading the plagiarized text in my reports, please ask yourself, does this sound like the work of an Ohio University graduate student?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Provost and General Counsel Are Unable To Explain

Last week I emailed Ohio University's General Counsel, Mr. Biancamano, and Excutive Vice President and Provost, Dr. Benoit, to ask for an explanation of why they accept plagiarism in Mr. Adlkaha's rewrite. I also asked why they deny that Mr. Ghanta's rewrite with two missing chapters is a violation of the rewrite policy that John Burns outlined in his letter to cheating students.

My questions are very simple and basic; but, it turns out that they refuse to answer me. You can read my email along with their response here.

I do not know how they can get away with revoking one student's degree for plagiarism, but allow others to simple delete their plagiarism and even republish plagiarism (here is the source that Mr. Adlakha copied in his rewrite.) Eventually, these major inconsistencies are going to catch up with them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Provost's Response

Earlier this month, Ohio University's General Councel, Mr. Biancamano, wrote to me on behalf of the provost, Dr. Benoit, in response to my January 15, 2010 letter. You can read the response here.

First let me say that it is pathetic that Ohio University's Provost has to defer to a lawyer to address my very simple letter requesting that Ohio University leaders show some respect for the university. I realize that Dr. Benoit inherited this mess, but I am certain that she is a very intelligent woman who is capable of addressing the concerns of an Ohio University alumnus. I guess the concepts of honesty, ethics, consistency, morals, etc. is not something Dr. Benoit wants to handle by herself. Nevertheless, I will assume that Dr. Benoit concurs with Mr. Biancamano's statements which are wrong.

Let's start with the so-called "re-writes" that I claim to be in violation of Ohio University's re-write policy as well as the Statement on Professional Ethics. Mr. Biancamano and Dr. Benoit state that they disagree with me, but they offer no explanation. The only conclusion I can draw is that Dr. Benoit has very low standards, and theses with plagiarism and missing chapters are acceptable to her. Eventually, someone at Ohio University will have to act on the evidence of plagiarism in Mr. Adlakha's re-write which I reported to legal affairs back in 2007. Their failure to act is precisely what convinced the accreditors to get involved back in 2006.

Evidence to support my claim of a violation of the re-write policy includes the following relevant statement made by Ohio University's former director of legal affairs, John Burns, in the letter he sent to cheating students back in 2006. He wrote: "Ohio University's intention/agenda in this matter is to primarily seek a resolution that respects and reflects Ohio University's commitment to both academic standards and academic honesty."

No matter how subjective Mr. Burns statement is, I do not think any reasonable person would argue that a thesis with plagiarism or a thesis with two missing chapters "reflects and respects a commitment to academic standards." In fact, Mr. Adlakha's and Mr. Ghanta's re-writes are in direct contradiction, and they represent a lowering of standards beyond any one's imagination.

Mr. Burns also wrote the following regarding the re-write requirements: "the Advisor would confirm to the Hearing Board that you have fully complied with this [re-write] option." But on the contrary, Mr. Biancamano wrote to me: "the AHHC [Hearing Board] does not approve re-writes." This is just one more instance of multiple sets of rules at Ohio University. I will probably have to write another letter to Mr. Biancamano to find out what the rules really are (i.e. who is accountable for approval of a re-write with plagiarism and a re-write with missing chapters).

Then we have the most outrageous aspect of Mr. Biancamano's and Dr. Benoit's letter. They acknowledge that Dr. Ingram recused himself from one plagiarism case and that another one of his students is currently under investigation for plagiarism, but they conclude: "there is no reason for Dr. Ingram to step down from his position as chair of the AHHC." What is wrong with Ohio University's leaders? Dr. Ingram has approved at least two theses that contain obvious and blatant plagiarism. (You can see them here and here). Dr. Ingram has no business being involved in judging plagiarism; his history proves that he is not capable. Ohio University's leaders do not make any sense at all. How can they take action against Dr. Mehta and Dr. Gunasekera for allowing plagiarism, but then they reward Dr. Ingram with chairmanship of the plagiarism hearing committee? Eventually, the absurdity of their decisions will catch up with them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Letter to Higher Learning Commission

I am trying to figure out if The Higher Learning Commission is serious about enforcing its criteria for accreditation, so I sent a letter to K.L. Solinski, the Commission's Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs. I asked Ms. Solinski a number of questions so that I can obtain an understanding of just how serious they are when it comes to accrediting a university that awards degrees to cheating students and then lies about its relevant policies.

Here's a little background:

On February 28, 2006 K.L Solinski wrote to Ohio University President McDavis asking him to explain among other things, "how it [Ohio University] handles allegations of plagiarism within its community."

On July 21, 2006 John Burns, former Ohio University Director of Legal Affairs, responded to the Ms. Solinski with a letter and a copy of the letter that was sent to cheating students.

On September 18, 2006 Ms. Soliski wrote to me stating that John Burns "responded with a thorough explanation," and she concluded the inquiry into my complaint.

About a year later, I discovered that, contrary to the procedure outlined by John Burns, Ohio University was not actually requiring students to re-write plagiarized sections. On March 21, 2008 I wrote another complaint letter to The Higher Learning Commission about this. My letter went unanswered.

On April 9, 2009, I wrote to President McDavis asking him to hold accountable the professors who violated his re-write policy. I copied K.L Solinski on the letter.

On May 4, 2009, the Commission acknowledged "potential accreditation issues."

On June 17, 2009 John Biancamano, Ohio University Director of Legal Affairs, wrote to me and stated that there was "no basis for further investigation or disciplinary action against these individuals [the professors who approved the re-written theses with extensive deletions and plagiarism]." In other words, Mr. Biancamano and President McDavis confirmed that professors are allowed to violate the re-write policy they provided to the Higher Learning Commission.

On September 3, 2009 John Biancamano wrote to K.L. Solinski to provide an update on Ohio University's plagiarism situation. The letter states once again that cheating students would re-write plagiarized theses. He does not mention that some are permitted to delete plagiarism instead of re-writing it.

President McDavis and John Biancamano are talking from both sides of their mouths. They have consistently and repeatedly told the public and the accreditors that cheating students are re-writing plagiarism when in fact some are not.

There is a major difference between re-writing and deleting. After all, Ohio University revoked one student's degree for plagiarism. Why didn't they just let him delete his plagiarism like they did for the others?

Ohio University is in blatant violation of the Higher Learning Commission's Accreditation Criterion One which includes: "The organization upholds and protects its integrity." Hopefully, K.L. Solinski will give me straight answers to my questions and start holding Ohio University leaders accountable for deceiving the public and the Commission.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Letter to Provost

Today, I sent a letter to Dr. Pam Benoit, Ohio University's Executive Vice President and Provost, asking her to reconsider the decision (by her predecessor, Dr. Kathy Krendl) to appoint Dr. Ingram as chairman of the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee. I think Dr. Ingram should be removed from the hearing committee because, as the record shows, he really does not care about academic quality or honesty. I proved this by including four enclosures showing student cheating that took place under Dr. Ingram's watch.

Enclosure #1 shows plagiarism by Dr. Ingram's doctoral student. I highlighted the plagiarism so that it is easy to see the degree to which this student cheated. The extensive copying makes it clear to me that the approving committee did not care that the student submitted the work of others. There are a few giveaways that any competent professor should have noted. For example, on page 21, the student uses British spelling of the words "vaporisation" and "fibres." But on page 26 he uses the word "fiber." The student is from Pakistan, but evidently not one professor on the committee asked why he uses both British and American spellings of the same word. I also think the many misspellings should have raised flags about this student. For example, see the bottom of page 71 where Dr. Kayani wrote the words "illuminate" and "repeal" instead of "eliminate" and "repel." Dr. Kayani did not even bother to copy correctly. Clearly, quality and originality is not a concern of Dr. Ingram's.

Enclosure #2 shows plagiarism by one of Dr. Alam's students who was co-advised by Dr. Ingram. Again, Dr. Ingram should have easily recognized that the student submitted text that is way beyond the capability of an Ohio University graduate student. There is no way that Dr. Ingram could have thought the student wrote what he submitted.

Enclosure #3 shows plagiarism in a rewritten thesis approved by the Dr. Ingram and the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee. Republication of this thesis clearly shows disregard for the rewrite policy touted by Ohio University. Aside from republishing plagiarism, the fact that the student did not even spell his own name correctly raises serious concerns. I question whether or not the student was even involved in the rewrite.

Enclosure #4 shows another shoddy rewrite approved by Dr. Ingram and the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee. Note that the student deleted two entire chapters from his thesis without even bothering to re-paginate.

When Ohio University's Board of Trustees created the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee, I seriously doubt that they thought the provost would appoint a chairman who has direct involvement in the origin of the very cases he is hearing. Dr. Ingram's appointment makes a mockery of everything the university does to deal with their plagiarism problem. We can only hope that the new provost will act appropriately.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mechanical Engineering Unsure of Degree Requirements

Every once in a while I read the Mechanical Engineering faculty meeting notes available on the chairman's webpage, and I was absolutely appalled at what I read in last week's minutes. One of the "Open Items" discussed during the January 6, 2010 meeting is:

"Develop department-level understanding of an appropriate scope and level of difficulty for a graduate project (vs. a thesis)."

So Ohio University Mechanical Engineering has been awarding graduate degrees for well over 20 years and they are just now trying to reach an understanding of the requirements. This is unbelievable. How can anyone trust the qualifications of Mechanical Engineering graduates when the faculty have not yet reached an "understanding of an appropriate scope and level of difficulty?"

Considering the number of bogus theses and dissertations that have been approved by these professors, I can only imagine what we would find if we could read some the project reports they have approved.

I would think that an accredited university would work out the basic details like what the academic requirements are before they start conferring degrees. I think President McDavis needs to suspend Mechanical Engineering's power to award degrees until they decide on what the requirements should be.