I am a Ph.D. candidate. Here I have a question, and I really want to hear what you would suggest.

Recently I did some literature studies, and I read a researcher's Ph.D. dissertation. She is kinda a pioneer in my research area, therefore I read her dissertation really carefully. However, I found that in the literature review chapter of her dissertation, there are parts of verbatim plagiarism. They are not blatant paragraph-to-paragraph copy and paste. They are just around four or five sentences, which are directly copied from other journals.

Her dissertation is around 300 pages with 8 chapters. I would say this dissertation is a high-quality dissertation. Besides these two tiny parts that are susceptible to plagiarism, it is really perfect.

I just wonder: what would you guys do? From my side, I don't want to report this to anybody at all, because I believe this might just an innocent mistake or something like that. Honestly, these two parts of verbatim plagiarism may account even less than 0.0001% of that dissertation.

  • 6
    I would probably ignore it. Especially since it is "only" in the literature review, not the creative part. And especially if it is several years old.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 23:18
  • 1
    This is extremely minor - I would let it go, especially since it really is in an unimportant part.
    – Spark
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 1:23
  • 1
    This question is extremely opinion based and doesn't belong here.
    – user35129
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 5:53
  • 4
    Actually one should even see those sentences in place. Also, at least in science, good sentences might be the natural ones. Independent of what one should do - I would do nothing - I think there is still space to argue if it is really plagiarism. "As found by X et al. verbatim here “ is basically quoting. The verbatim copied part alone would be more critical.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 7:53
  • @CoderInNetwork It is easily fixed. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 9:00

2 Answers 2


A few sentences copied out of the papers reviewed in the literature overview before the main text of the thesis? I'd be rather surprised if that doesn't happen all the time.


They are just around four or five sentences, which are directly copied from other journals.

This is not a mistake, it is plagiarism. It doesn't matter that it is not in an important part of the dissertation. It also does not matter how much of the dissertation is plagiarized.

However, in this case the misconduct apparently has nothing to do with you, so there is no need for you to do anything.

  • 2
    But would you report it if you were me? Do you think that the university will revoke her degree because of this? Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 23:40
  • 3
    We do not do surveys on this site. The university would conduct an investigation. It's hard to know if the investigation would lead to the degree being revoked. Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 23:43

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