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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The great dissertation hoaxes

“Originality is undetected plagiarism.” - William Ralph Inge, (1860-1954), English author, Anglican priest, and professor of divinity at Cambridge.
Around two weeks ago, Apple Daily, a Hong Kong print newspaper reported an alleged plagiarism committed by a top university official in Lingnan University. In 2013, Herdip Singh, associate vice president and comptroller of Lingnan University submitted his doctoral dissertation at the Tarlac University, Philippines.

Singh’s dissertation entitled “Corporate Governance in the China Region: Implication to Business Management” was found to be substantially similar to a master’s thesis submitted by Wu Chunshui, a Chinese student at Lund University, Sweden in 2010.
Using Lund University’s plagiarism detection software, it was revealed that the two manuscripts were 96% similar.

Currently, Singh refused to comment on the issue.

This however is not the first time such issue came about in academia. Here are examples of popular people from the past who were alleged (and proven) to commit plagiarism with regards to their dissertations.

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

In 2011, Guttenberg’s doctorate degree from the University of Bayreuth was stripped of him after he admitted copying several sources for his thesis in 2006 without citing them. This issue earned him the moniker as the minister for cut-and-paste, and Baron zu Googleberg. As a consequence, Guttenberg resigned as minister thereby ending his promising political career.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin claimed to hold a doctorate degree in economic science at the St. Petersburg Mining Institute in 1996. However, it was reported that Putin never really attended the institute. Later, researchers were able to get a copy of his dissertation. After inspection, Putin’s hardly accessible manuscript turned out to be littered with plagiarized content all throughout.

Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King Jr.

In the later part of 1980’s, King's doctoral dissertation at Boston University entitled “A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman” contained exact texts from another dissertation in the same university three years earlier. Further investigation also revealed that his other academic papers as well as his speeches were also plagiarized.
Despite this, Boston University did not revoke his doctorate degree further saying that in fact King’s dissertation made an intelligent contribution to scholarship.

How about you, do you know of anyone who were suspected or found out to have plagiarized their PhD dissertation? You can add to this list by using the comment link below.


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