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Academic Honesty Oversight Committee Report of Meeting
March 14, 2006

Contact: Director of Media Relations Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu 


Submitted to:  Dennis Irwin, Dean, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
                    Angie Bukley, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies,  Russ College of Engineering and Technology

Date: March 30, 2006

The Academic Honesty Oversight Committee met March 14, 2006, in room S-108 to review the allegations of plagiarism in theses/dissertations by students who had graduated in Mechanical Engineering (ME) at Ohio University (Ohio) over the past twenty years.  At a previous meeting, all new allegations that had been brought to the attention of the committee were divided among the committee members to review and report at this meeting.  The ME department representative did not participate in the review of these materials to avoid any perception of conflict of interest. After reviewing the materials supporting the allegations, the committee decided that in most cases plagiarism had been committed, but the level varied significantly and, as a consequence, any recommendations by the committee should reflect the level of plagiarism.  To aid in doing this, the committee established the attached guidelines for categorizing the type, level, and recommended actions in regard to plagiarism in theses and dissertations.

Also at this meeting, four cases that had been reviewed in a previous meeting were brought back to the table with new evidence that none of the four had committed plagiarism, since the document from which each had copied had been co-authored by all.  However, due to the fact that none of the theses had referenced the document from which material had been copied, the committee felt that this left an appearance of plagiarism, and hence is recommending that each thesis be modified to remove this appearance.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact me. 

Jerrel R. Mitchell, Chair
Academic Honesty Oversight Committee

Guidelines for Making Decisions on Plagiarism and Recommended Actions
Revised 3/16/06

I. Cases in which the originality of the technical contribution to the body of knowledge is disputed

Recommended Actions
  1. The document in question will be removed from the library.

  2. The author of the thesis/dissertation and the director of the thesis/dissertation will be notified and asked to respond  to the charges within three months from notification.  The responses must be to the AHOC in writing.

  3. If, after the responses are reviewed or the time has elapsed without response, the committee votes that plagiarism has been committed, the document will be permanently removed from the library and revocation of the degree will be recommended.

  4. The director of the thesis/dissertation will be referred to the Russ College Ethics Committee for review.

II. Cases in which the alleged plagiarism is confined to the writings in background materials and/or literature reviews and/or experimental/lab setup.

a. Portions of the thesis/dissertation have been copied from published literature (e.g. book, journal, periodical)

Recommended actions
  1. The thesis/dissertation will be removed from the library.

  2. Provide all evidence to the author and give the author three months to respond in writing to the charges.  The author must respond to the AHOC committee through a written document.

  3. If after the author responds, the AHOC committee, decides that plagiarism has been committed, the author will be given nine months, from the decision date of the AHOC committee, to rewrite the thesis/dissertation to remove all plagiarism to the satisfaction of an ad hoc committee appointed by the dean.

  4. If after the nine month deadline has passed, the charge of plagiarism has not been removed, the document will be permanently removed from the library and the AHOC committee will recommend revoking the degree that the author received whose requirements were partially fulfilled by the thesis/dissertation containing plagiarism.

b. Portions of the thesis/dissertation have been copied from another thesis but there is no overlap in time periods that the two students were at Ohio.

Recommended Actions
  1. The trailing student will be treated as case II.a above.

  2. The preceding student will be exonerated of the charges.

c. Portions of the theses/dissertations of students who were contemporaries at Ohio are so similar that a reasonable engineering professional could not consider them to be independently authored.

Recommended Actions
  1. All documents will be removed from the library.

  2. The advisor or advisors of the students will be contacted to try to determine, if possible, who authored the materials in question.

  3. All authors will be contacted to respond to the charges, in writing, within three months.

  4. The full AHOC committee will review the information from the advisors and the responses from the authors.
  5. If it is clear that any of the authors did not plagiarize, no action will be recommended for those authors and their documents will be restored to the library.

  6. If the authors are determined to have uncited material from documents they have previously authored, the thesis/dissertation will be amended to include language denoting that material is from a previously authored work.  If the student fails to annotate the material, the AHOC committee will recommend that the document be permanently removed from the library.

  7. If any author is determined to have plagiarized material from another author, the procedure will follow case II.a.

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