in Teaching

Maybe I’m Providing a Better Education than Ohio University

Someone just brought it to my attention that a student named Feng Xia who received a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University in 1998 did so with a thesis paper that steals from others’ works, including my master’s thesis. It’s so bad, that after cobbling together various works, Feng couldn’t be bothered to normalize the citation format, or even make the number of citations match the number of references listed.

Yet, this made it past the thesis committee.

Why bring it up? One, because if Ohio University doesn’t take the ethical path here I’d like the Internet archive to show what happened.

Two, I want to gloat a little that large established institutions with extensive accreditations don’t necessarily provide any better quality — and sometimes much, much worse — than my little Smart Experience.

Just for decoration, here’s some graphs from my thesis I drew by hand circa 1994, probably in MacDraw, with proper references.

  1. How on earth did you catch it? I’ve heard some interesting stories from professors about the built-in disincentives for reporting plagiarism, sadly.

  2. Someone else emailed me about it. But there’s software these days which automates the process of checking a paper’s contents against the Internet. Perhaps someone started checking older papers with it?

  3. And here I was put through the ringer because I submitted a thesis I worked ages on because I hadn’t noticed one page of my bibliography was missing. They decided if I cited works in the paper but didn’t include them in the back that it clearly must be a fake.

    I eventually was able to prove using the 8 million or so rough drafts, eye witness of those that saw me work on it, and accounts of those I interviewed that yes I indeed did write the paper.

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