This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
Ohio University has written to 40 engineering graduates about copied
material in the research papers for their master's degrees.
This action is the result of an investigation by a former student at the
university in Athens, Ohio. In 2004, Thomas Matrka was a graduate student in
engineering. Mr. Matrka was having trouble getting approval for his master's
thesis. So he started to read the papers of graduates to get ideas.
He found that some papers included words or even pages that had been copied
from other research work or published books. Some of the papers were written as
long as twenty years ago. A number of the graduates now work as engineers and
The former students are being accused of plagiarism. Plagiarism is making it
appear that someone else's words or ideas are your own.
Where material came from must be made clear unless the information is common
knowledge. Material copied exactly is supposed to appear within quotation marks.
Rules can differ about how to note sources in papers. But if copied material
appears without credit, it could be considered plagiarized even if you rewrote
it in your own words.
All but a few of the graduates in the Ohio University investigation came from
other countries. International students can arrive with limited English and
limited knowledge of the rules for writing at American universities.
But some of the graduates say they do not think what they did was plagiarism
at all because they included the names of the authors. The copied material
appeared in the literature review, the part of the paper where students discuss
research done by others.
Yet some of the same material appeared again and again. Critics say
professors should have recognized the copying and put a stop to it.
A university committee has called for the dismissal of two engineering
professors. One of them is now taking legal action. He says statements by
university officials have ruined him professionally.
Ohio University says the graduates in many cases have agreed to rewrite their
papers. That means they could possibly have to defend their research again
before a committee of professors. Others can try to show that they did not
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy
Steinbach and available online at www.voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Doug