Sunday, August 13, 2006

OU prof sues OU over plagiarism business

While the Harvard Business Review encourages readers to "plagiarize with pride," things have gotten more complicated in the Ohio University plagiarism business.

On August 13, the Los Angeles Times reported:

A professor has filed suit accusing Ohio University of defamation, saying school officials wrongly accused him of allowing mechanical engineering students to plagiarize.

The lawsuit by Jay Gunasekera also claims that university officials characterized the former department head as unethical, dishonest and supportive of academic fraud. Thirty-seven engineering graduates were accused of plagiarizing parts of their master's research projects.

The Athens News reported:

The folks concerned with public relations at Ohio University can't be too happy about the story that graces the cover of The Chronicle of Higher Education this week -- it focuses on the recent plagiarism scandal at OU.

The publication is the main U.S. magazine covering higher education, and if college officials care about what their peers in higher education think of them, they care about what appears in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The top-of-the-fold cover presentation includes a photo of former OU graduate student Thomas Matrka and the headline, "The Copycat's Foe: A Graduate Student Checked a Department's Theses for Plagiarism. Now 37 Degrees Are in Question."

Inside the lengthy story runs for three and a half pages, without ads, and includes more photos of Matrka and several photo examples of the alleged plagiarism.

The story reads, "Over the past two years, ferreting out plagiarism has become Tom Matrka's hobby, maybe even his obsession. And he's gotten very good at it. So adept, in fact, that the former graduate student at Ohio University -- now a project engineer at a nearby explosives factory -- has single-handedly blown the lid off a huge plagiarism scandal at his alma mater.


One OU professor who works in the mechanical engineering department where the plagiarism occurred questioned the seriousness of the plagiarism unearthed by Matrka. Hajrudin Pasic told The Chronicle that most of the plagiarism found at OU occurred in introductory chapters of theses, which is mainly boilerplate and doesn't reflect the actual research. He also noted that all but a few cases involved international students who, according to The Chronicle writer's paraphrase, "may have either not known correct citation practices or, struggling to write in a foreign language, been tempted to borrow another student's words."


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