Friday, June 19, 2009

Michael Leddy posted this note about a bit of a stir that is on at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, USA. The president of the university, William Meehan, was granted his doctorate from the University of Alabama. There has been determined that there is an enormous amount of, shall we say, correspondence, between that dissertation and the dissertation of Carl Boening, who was granted a doctorate a few years earlier from the same institution. Meehan's thesis does admit that it is duplicating a research method with a different population. But just duplicating the method does not warrent word-for-word copying from the text.

Interestingly, there are three professors who were on both dissertation commitees. Apparently, Meehan's committee approved the duplication of the method. It does seem strange that they did not pick up on over a third of the thesis being a copy.

The case was published in USA Today in April 2009. They report that the investigation was started because Meehan had seized a large plant sample collection from another professor and his lawyer is accusing Meehan of having a history of stealing academic work.

This same president was also caught with some plagiarized material in his regular column in the local newspaper in 2007. But he wasn't to blame, that was his ghostwriter doing the plagiarizing:
The Committee has found no discernable evidence that President Meehan knew or had reason to know that articles written and released over his name and office contained plagiarized material.
At least that cost him a job at a fancy Georgia Football College, Valdosta. The University of Alabama reviewed the similar dissertations, USA Today reports, and is not taking action because one professor from the committee is at another institution and one has passed away. Case closed. Ignore. Water over the mill.

The Tuscaloosa News reports, however, that the dissertation adviser was not involved in any sort of University of Alabama "review".

It does somehow smell of something getting swept under the carpet.

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