I wrote my PhD thesis a few years back. After I finished, my supervisor found another researcher and continued research with the apparatus I built, but along a different line of study. I met this student a few times and gave them advice and help when I could. They always had a hard copy of my thesis in the lab for reference; I also provided a PDF copy at the student's request.
The student recently finished their PhD and I looked at their thesis. The lit review, results, and findings are the student's own work. But, particularly in the middle section (describing the apparatus I built):
- Many paragraphs of their text is copied and pasted from mine, some without checking so that it makes false references;
- In other instances, the student has substantially copied paragraphs, but changed a few words here and there;
- One that particularly annoyed me was the copying and awkward re-hashing of my acknowledgements to my supervisor, very personal words;
I informed my former supervisor (with whom I have a good relationship) and he seemed not to want to know. He said that as long as it wasn't the results then it wasn't too important. He reckoned as the student was a good guy, he may not have known what plagiarism was, and perhaps did it by accident. He did offer to acknowledge or include me in subsequent journal papers.
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?
In particular, I was thinking to quantify the level of copying involved and ask my supervisor to withdraw the thesis until copied material is removed. However, I risk jeopardizing a fairly good relationship with my supervisor and possibly also with the small network of colleagues.