Blog written by Angela Loiacono

Apparently, plagiarism isn’t really plagiarism any more.  Last week, the Daily Herald reported that the Northern Illinois University (NIU) dean of the College of  Engineering  and Engineering Technology Promod Vohra lifted large portions of his master’s thesis from engineering textbooks and manuals.  These 20 some sections did not include any quotation marks or internal citations.

After four tenured professors filed a complaint, a NIU panel decided that the copying didn’t constitute as plagiarism. The panel backed up its decision by saying the definition of plagiarism was not as simple as, “a paper copied in part from one or more sources, without proper identification and acknowledgement of the sources.” (Despite the fact that the university’s English department supplied this definition.)  They went on to conclude that Vohra did not intend to deceive anyone, so his stolen work couldn’t count against him.

Is this for real? Any student who was found to have taken one section of a textbook and dropped into their paper insinuating that it was their own work would at the very least be given a failing grade, if not asked to leave the class, or in some instances, the university.  But for some reason, Vohra is allowed to do such a thing, because, well…he didn’t mean to deceive anyone. If he didn’t’ mean to deceive anyone, why not use quotes or citations? A professor, let alone a dean, knows better than to try and pull the wool over everyone’s eyes with this ridiculous defense. 

I’m embarrassed for the university and Vohra. I’d love to see him explain his rationale in class.