Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PH.D. Thesis plagiarism flap brews in Little Rock

There is a plagiarism flap in Little Rock, Arkansas involving the PH.D. thesis of Dexter Suggs at Indiana Wesleyan University.  Some of the copying was alleged to be from a 2005 thesis at the University of Oklahoma.  KATV wrote:

Dr. Georgann Scott, who wrote her dissertation in 2005, was shocked to find her work in Suggs' 2009 dissertation without giving him permission to use it.
On Thursday, when Channel 7 News asked Suggs if the allegations first made by the Blue Hog Report were true, he denied it saying it was his original work.
β€œI was angry, that was the first thought that came to my mind,” said Dr. Scott.
Dr. Scott is a retired educator who in 2005 wrote this dissertation at the University of Oklahoma. Fast forward to 2009, when LRSD's Dr. Suggs wrote his dissertation at Indiana Wesleyan University with paragraphs almost identical to Scott's without Suggs citing her work.
β€œHe used large sections of my dissertation without any notation or any signature from me...like he says he has these papers and he doesn't have my signature on anything,” added Scott.


To unpack this text, the granting of permission to use relates to copyright infringement, which is distinct from plagiarism,  which is unattributed copying.  One can plagiarize Shakespeare without infringing copyright.

**As a historical point, one recalls inter-thesis plagiarism was involved in the Martin
Luther King affair.  As reported by the LA Times in 1991:

Worse, in the view of most academic standards, was King's appropriation of works by other writers about Tillich, including a 1952 doctoral dissertation by another Boston University student. In the general bibliography of his thesis, King referred to the other student's dissertation but did not cite particular passages.

--the 1952 thesis was that of Jack Stewart Boozer 

Someone has posted Scott's 2005 thesis on the internet.  Aspects of it caught the attention of

Given that the thesis is dated 2005, which is in the 21st century, one notes that page xi of the thesis talks about the 20th century in the present tense--"The populace of the twentieth century is increasingly obsessed..."-

The first paragraph on page 1 sets a time of 75 years and of 76 years.  What was special about
1929 or 1930?

On page 1, the 20th century goes into the past tense:  "the populace of the 20th century was obsessed..."

One could continue, but the central allegation is copying of this material rather than the quality thereof.

And, as with the King thesis (copying of one BU thesis by a later BU student), why did not the thesis committee pick up on the copying?


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