Review 10Olesia Mihai – PhD thesis copy/paste plagiarism


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Yellow means copy/pasted. Virtually all pages look the same.

Yellow means copy/pasted. Virtually all pages look the same.

Experts confirm that Dr Olesia Mihai (formerly Lupu) from “Al. I Cuza” University, Iasi, Romania, plagiarized extensively within her PhD thesis (April 2005, then a PhD student) the PhD thesis from 1981 of Prof Jay W. Ruud, at the time at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA.

As confirmed by the experts below, including Professor Ruud himself, hundreds of pages have been lifted by copy/pasting. Out of 180 pages of actual content, close to 100% of them were identified as Prof Ruud’s original work, as one can tell from the highlighted thesis compared against Prof Ruud’s thesis (also highlighted).

It is worth mentioning that the original PhD thesis of Prof Ruud is not available online. It is stored as a microfilm and can be only ordered and purchased from ProQuest.

[14 May 2013] Olesia Mihai resigns following the publication of this review by Integru.org. Investigation from faculty special committee and university ethics committee to follow.

Book published with the same title, and possibly content

The CV and the university page (snapshot) show that in 2009 Olesia Mihai published a book with the same title (though in Romanian): Lupu, O., Traditia medievala in scrierile lui Geoffrey Chaucer, Editura Sedcom Libris, Iasi, Romania, 2009, which is now apparently being sold in bookshops and possibly has the same content as the PhD thesis. Please contact us or post here at the bottom of the page if you have information regarding this book.

Promotion obtained, not possible without book

The book was used by Olesia Mihai in obtaining a promotion from Lecturer to Associate Professor, as confirmed by the university website, see here the details about Olesia Mihai’s promotion, with the scores obtained to meet the promotion citeria. The book counted as 25 points out of the necessary 50 for the promotion, the highest score out of all the achievements by Olesia Mihai, the next highest being only 10.

Without the book scoring 25 points, Olesia Mihai could not have met the minimum 50 points necessary for the promotion to Associate Professor, the total obtained by Olesia Mihai in that section being 52.

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What the experts so far are saying

The reviews below were sent by independent experts. They were invited by independent people like you (academics or general public) to answer the questions on Integru.org. If you know other experts in this area then please do recommend or invite them above.

Prof Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, USA
Prof Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (web)
Department of English
Fordham University, USA
 . . .  It violates all norms of scholarly integrity in my field. It is unfortunately blatant and wholesale plagiarism in black and white. Although the plagiarising academic now works in a different  . . .

Q1. Conduct. To what extent does this material and conduct comply with ethical norms, as far as you are aware?

It violates all norms of scholarly integrity in my field.

Q2. Grey zone. Are there elements that are controversial but which cannot be clearly qualified as misconduct?

It is unfortunately blatant and wholesale plagiarism in black and white.

Q3. Outcome. In your opinion, what should be the outcome in this situation? You may think of procedures, expectations in an international context, comparisons with similar instances, possible impact etc.

Although the plagiarising academic now works in a different field, she has presumably benefited from having appeared to have earned a doctorate. In the last few years the President of Hungary and two leading German politicians have resigned from office when similar discoveries were made about their "PhDs". The question arises in this context of who can and should apply sanctions. This case is so flagrant that it calls for wider investigation of the culture and practices of the graduate school in which the perpetrator was educated. Is there adequate instruction about scholarly and academic practice and adequate inculcation of appropriate academic norms? What are the students taught about scholarly integrity? While an exemplary and deterrent case can be made of this individual, it would be shortsighted to do so without investigating how such violation of international standards was permitted to come about and whether there are more such instances.

Prof Jay Ruud, USA
Prof Jay Ruud (web)
Department of English
University of Central Arkansas, USA
 . . .  This complies with no ethical norms at all. This person has simply copied my dissertation, in most cases word for word, for hundreds of pages. There is no grey zone  . . .

Q1. Conduct. To what extent does this material and conduct comply with ethical norms, as far as you are aware?

This complies with no ethical norms at all. This person has simply copied my dissertation, in most cases word for word, for hundreds of pages.

Q2. Grey zone. Are there elements that are controversial but which cannot be clearly qualified as misconduct?

There is no grey zone here. Nothing here is legitimate. There has been no attempt by the plagiarist to add original research or to give credit to the real author.

Q3. Outcome. In your opinion, what should be the outcome in this situation? You may think of procedures, expectations in an international context, comparisons with similar instances, possible impact etc.

The plagiarist's Ph.D. granting institution should be notified that she received her degree under false pretenses. Further, since my dissertation was also published by Garland Press, they should be informed since they probably have a legal case against this person.

Prof Howell Chickering, USA
Prof Howell Chickering (web)
Departments of English; European Studies
Amherst College, USA
 . . .  This writing is cut & paste wholesale plagiarism, and does not comply with any ethical norms that I know of. NIo, the whole effort clearly qualifies as misconduct. This is  . . .

Q1. Conduct. To what extent does this material and conduct comply with ethical norms, as far as you are aware?

This writing is cut & paste wholesale plagiarism, and does not comply with any ethical norms that I know of.

Q2. Grey zone. Are there elements that are controversial but which cannot be clearly qualified as misconduct?

NIo, the whole effort clearly qualifies as misconduct.

Q3. Outcome. In your opinion, what should be the outcome in this situation? You may think of procedures, expectations in an international context, comparisons with similar instances, possible impact etc.

This is a flagrant, indeed shameless, plagiarism, and the outcome of the case should be a punishment that fits the crime. In my opinion, that means that whatever advantage this plagiarism gained the person, academic or economic, should be withdrawn or canceled. If this writing gained the person an academic post, it should be taken from her. At my institution, Amherst College (USA) she would be dismissed from her post and from working at the institution.

If the Romanian book is the same text, translated from English into Romanian, it shows truly bad faith and an intent to deceive. In my opinion, that calls for a further sanction.

At the same time, the CV shows a well-developed career of extensive teaching and publication in the area of Business English/Communications. This person is now in her early 40s probably, and is well established in this other area. I see no evidence in the documents you have sent me to suggest misconduct in this other area.

However, I think the possibility of misconduct in her other publications should be investigated

Prof Andrew Galloway, USA
Prof Andrew Galloway (web)
Department of Comparative Literature
Cornell University, USA
 . . .  doesn't comply; a stark case of full and direct plagiarism. no. But a full investigation would need to discover the norms and checks for producing doctoral or other academic work  . . .

Q1. Conduct. To what extent does this material and conduct comply with ethical norms, as far as you are aware?

doesn't comply; a stark case of full and direct plagiarism.

Q2. Grey zone. Are there elements that are controversial but which cannot be clearly qualified as misconduct?

no. But a full investigation would need to discover the norms and checks for producing doctoral or other academic work in this person's degree-granting institution; isolating a single flagrant case may distract from whatever lamentable situation allowed it. See answer to Q3.

Q3. Outcome. In your opinion, what should be the outcome in this situation? You may think of procedures, expectations in an international context, comparisons with similar instances, possible impact etc.

This is very difficult to speculate about without knowing more about the particulars of the event and what's been done about it since then. The case itself is not subtle; once the source is identified, a child could see that this is a piece of work that has simply had a new name put to another's work. And obviously whatever that piece of work is supposed to subtend (viz., completion of a PhD) cannot in fact be upheld.

The most productive outcome I can contemplate would be a searching investigation of the structure of advising, funding, mentoring, assessing, critiquing, and defending doctoral or any academic work at the institution in question. A simple outcome might be adding the requirement of international external examiners of all humanities doctoral theses, as is common elsewhere. A more labor-intensive outcome would be requiring regular consultations between students and their faculty chairs and committee members. I imagine that results like this would not be likely if those two changes were made. Unlike many cases of undergraduate plagiarism (with which I am more familiar), the evidence here is not subtle. A blatant individual case like this suggests to me that the problem is systemic. Rather than think of procedures for handling this individual case (which I feel both unqualified and reluctant to do), I think that one important outcome would be deeper and fuller investigation of the relevant local context of academic production, by political scientists, anthropologists, and smart administrators given the freedom to question all elements of the system, and motivated by an imperative to remake the ways in which academic production in the humanities is supported and supervised in Romania.

Report

MISCONDUCT: PhD Thesis plagiarism, copy/paste
Severity Almost 100% out of 180 pages of content.
DOCUMENT: Medieval Tradition in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Writings (local copy)
INSTITUTION: “Al. I. Cuza” University, Iasi, Romania
DATE: 2005
AUTHOR: Olesia Mihai
POSITION (TIME OF WRITING): PhD candidate
PHD SUPERVISOR (TIME OF WRITING): Prof Stefan Avadanei, Dean of Faculty of Literature, "Al. I. Cuza" University, Iasi, Romania
CURRENT POSITION: Promoted from Lecturer to Associate Professor based on a book that Olesia Mihai published with the same title (and content?) as the PhD thesis. The book provided 25 points out of 52 points for the promotion. The minimum required is 50 points.

Documents

OFFENDING THESIS, HIGHLIGHTED: 2005-Mihai-PhD-Thesis
Prof Ruud's ORIGINAL THESIS, Highlighted: 1981-Ruud-PhD-Thesis
Promotion to Associate Professor Anexa-2-Mihai-Olesia
OLESIA MIHAI's CV Olesia-Mihai-CV

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  1. Plagiarism is something unfortunate, however I would appreciate here the resignation decision of the academic staff member unlike the previous similar cases targetting Ponta or Antonescu…

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