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Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

OK, that new student made a mistake. Now, you need to ask yourself what do you want to achieve.

Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

First, note that this plagiarism makes no damage to you. You had graduated before (s)he started. There would be no question about who was the plagiarizer. The plagiarized text is in the background, it doesn't rob any credit that belonged to you.

That means you would gain nothing personally.

Your advisor's response is understandable. He was probably too busy (or lazy) to read the theses. He would know for sure that the new student was doing wrong. But if the plagiarism is discovered, he will be in a lot of trouble.

As you also guess, if you pursue further, you will lose the relationship with him, etc.

I do not encourage scientific misconduct, but in this case you will lose something and gain nothing.

If the new student works in industry now, he would not care less about the PhD thesis. If he is in academia, this plagiarism will haunt him forever.


Answers to comment of @cag51.

I was with you until your last paragraph. If OP reports this, the student could have to do revisions or risk losing their PhD (or maybe they will lose their PhD outright); even someone in industry would not want their PhD revoked (as then they could not claim it on their resume). Conversely, it's not clear how this would "haunt him forever" in academia -- if this is settled quietly, and especially if OP doesn't speak up, no one is likely to know that there was ever an issue.

From the time someone starts working in industry, his/her PhD becomes irrelevant. Suppose the new student is working in company X, will he be fired if his PhD is revoked? No. Will his next company care if his PhD is revoked? No, they only care how many years he has worked for company X with which title.

I'm working in the US, where companies always hire a third-party to do background check on new employee, and you can get a copy of the report. I have never been checked for education background. They just do not care.

On the other hand, if the new student is working in academia, the consequence of the plagiarism being discovered is catastrophic. It likes sleeping with a bomb. Even if you know the bomb is very unlikely to explode, you can't stop worrying about it.

Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

OK, that new student made a mistake. Now, you need to ask yourself what do you want to achieve.

Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

First, note that this plagiarism makes no damage to you. You had graduated before (s)he started. There would be no question about who was the plagiarizer. The plagiarized text is in the background, it doesn't rob any credit that belonged to you.

That means you would gain nothing personally.

Your advisor's response is understandable. He was probably too busy (or lazy) to read the theses. He would know for sure that the new student was doing wrong. But if the plagiarism is discovered, he will be in a lot of trouble.

As you also guess, if you pursue further, you will lose the relationship with him, etc.

I do not encourage scientific misconduct, but in this case you will lose something and gain nothing.

If the new student works in industry now, he would not care less about the PhD thesis. If he is in academia, this plagiarism will haunt him forever.

Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

OK, that new student made a mistake. Now, you need to ask yourself what do you want to achieve.

Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

First, note that this plagiarism makes no damage to you. You had graduated before (s)he started. There would be no question about who was the plagiarizer. The plagiarized text is in the background, it doesn't rob any credit that belonged to you.

That means you would gain nothing personally.

Your advisor's response is understandable. He was probably too busy (or lazy) to read the theses. He would know for sure that the new student was doing wrong. But if the plagiarism is discovered, he will be in a lot of trouble.

As you also guess, if you pursue further, you will lose the relationship with him, etc.

I do not encourage scientific misconduct, but in this case you will lose something and gain nothing.

If the new student works in industry now, he would not care less about the PhD thesis. If he is in academia, this plagiarism will haunt him forever.


Answers to comment of @cag51.

I was with you until your last paragraph. If OP reports this, the student could have to do revisions or risk losing their PhD (or maybe they will lose their PhD outright); even someone in industry would not want their PhD revoked (as then they could not claim it on their resume). Conversely, it's not clear how this would "haunt him forever" in academia -- if this is settled quietly, and especially if OP doesn't speak up, no one is likely to know that there was ever an issue.

From the time someone starts working in industry, his/her PhD becomes irrelevant. Suppose the new student is working in company X, will he be fired if his PhD is revoked? No. Will his next company care if his PhD is revoked? No, they only care how many years he has worked for company X with which title.

I'm working in the US, where companies always hire a third-party to do background check on new employee, and you can get a copy of the report. I have never been checked for education background. They just do not care.

On the other hand, if the new student is working in academia, the consequence of the plagiarism being discovered is catastrophic. It likes sleeping with a bomb. Even if you know the bomb is very unlikely to explode, you can't stop worrying about it.

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Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

OK, that new student made a mistake. Now, you need to ask yourself what do you want to achieve.

Given that only some of the background text (rather than the results section) was copied, is it reasonable to pursue this further? What is normally done in such cases?

First, note that this plagiarism makes no damage to you. You had graduated before (s)he started. There would be no question about who was the plagiarizer. The plagiarized text is in the background, it doesn't rob any credit that belonged to you.

That means you would gain nothing personally.

Your advisor's response is understandable. He was probably too busy (or lazy) to read the theses. He would know for sure that the new student was doing wrong. But if the plagiarism is discovered, he will be in a lot of trouble.

As you also guess, if you pursue further, you will lose the relationship with him, etc.

I do not encourage scientific misconduct, but in this case you will lose something and gain nothing.

If the new student works in industry now, he would not care less about the PhD thesis. If he is in academia, this plagiarism will haunt him forever.