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Ira Lightman @iralightman
, 25 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
What supervisors and examiners can miss in a PhD is academic plagiarism: when a candidate quotes a source near-verbatim, and, by failing to put quote marks, has it mistaken for their own phrasing. Even if a sentence nearby shows that they've read it and know it's an influence /1
Far worse is when a near-verbatim phrase shows up without quote marks and WITHOUT A SOURCE /2
And benefit of the doubt tends to be removed when there are a good few examples of either in a PhD thesis, rather than one isolated error /3
These three criteria should give Royal Holloway disquiet about Aaron Bastani's PhD thesis, as tweeted by him in a link to a PDF download of it. Examples follow side by side of Bastani's phrases, not mere factual statements and near verbatim earlier texts /4
Bastani's thesis /5
Bennett and Segerberg 2013 – cited by Bastani but not, many would say, sufficiently (e.g. with quote marks) to credit it properly /6
Bastani – only at the end of two paragraphs (see second screen grab) does he say it's pretty much all from Bennett and George 2005, only mentioning them in passing at the end. All the sources read and cited by B & G are presented as if read by Bastani /7
Bennett and George 2005 /8
Bastani (note that a footnote from Bennett and George 2005 has been added to the borrowed paragraph as if Bastani's own extra thought) /9
Bennett and George 2005 /10
Bastani quotes from Berg without quote marks (again, Berg is cited nearby but academically this is insufficient and could mislead) /11
the Berg original /12
Bastani uses verbatim a source completely uncredited in the PhD: Qualitative Interviewing (Warren 2002) in Handbook of Interview Research: Context and Method (Gubrium and Holstein 2002) /13
Warren 2002 /14
More Bastani uncredited from Warren 2002 /15
Warren 2002 /16
More Bastani uncredited from Warren 2002 /17
Warren 2002 /18
Final example: where again Bastani presents a source quoted by his source (Berg again) as if he's read her. And yet a close look shows Bastani has misread an unstructured interview as a semistructured interview. This happens with copy paste PhD work /19
Berg original /20
I found the first two paragraph example (Bennett and George 2005), within 25 minutes. It struck me that the candidate was waffling about "theoretical parsimony" so I googled it. I wasn't looking for plagiarism when I started /21
Somebody could run the rest through Turnitin (academic plagiarism software, routine for undergraduates; rare for PhDs); or Bastani could account for why these things are there and list any more /22
This is not differences in methodology. Academic plagiarism is an offence. Some universities withdraw PhDs for it; some stonewall. Passing a viva isn't the final be-all and end-all /23
What happens now is up to Royal Holloway, but they should at the very least issue a statement about what they think academic plagiarism is; and if they will let candidates off as long as it's not picked up by the viva /End
It's possible that Warren 2002 was reprinted in Warren and Karner 2010, which is in the bibliography. The thesis should still use full citation and quote marks but I apologise for saying it's completely uncredited if it's in the latter source
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