I am an Indian student and studying in the USA away from home and family. I am writing my master's thesis in a private University and we were two weeks away to submit the final version to the committee and I was about to start my PhD in a public state university. I was working in math and proved some original result with some different proofs and I also read a paper and elaborate the proofs in my own language. I admit that I took the statement of the theorems word by word and some discussions as well.
I was unaware of this serious plagiarism before as in my undergrad I didn't have idea of writing a thesis. I first wrote my understandings on paper and then tried to type this in overleaf. I am pretty bad at reading pdf files from computer screen and can't do it for longer and after typing a bit I went to another state to my relative's house and got stuck in Covid19 and I lost some major details of my paper. I was panicked because of family's health and my health. I also consulted with doctors as I have anxiety and insomnia problems which includes some short time memory loss. I don't know how to express this that I forgot to put a citation of that corresponding paper. I cited a ton of other papers in my thesis and even other papers of those corresponding authors. I even thanked some of my friends and my students whom I give private tutions with whom I discussed in my papers. I also said my advisor that I am reading one paper and elaborating it and asked whether it is okay or not and his reply was it is ok if you give proper citation and still I missed that particular paper. Now my advisor has taken an academic dishonesty action against me as last week we were discussing about one definition and suddenly I recalled that I wrote a particular section of my thesis from a paper and although we were out two weeks away from my submitting it he complained against me.
I have an anxiety feeling and guilty feeling because what is happening with me these days. I am student with good academic understanding. I never wanted to make this happened with me and I want to confess when I am now reading about plagiarism I feel that it is a plagiarism but I was unaware of this fact before this severe consequences. I remember I asked my professor whether my thesis will be published or not and he said that it won't be published. I have few questions:
- How severe the consequence of plagiarism in masters thesis if it won't get published?
- Can I appeal to make changes as I have one week now in hand?
- Should I say the reasoning or rather accept my guilt and say that I have done this willingly because in one article it is written that accepting is a better solution.
- How should I defend myself? I have my defence on Monday. I am the first scholar in my family so I don't have any guidance on how to say it precisely. I can also have paid guidance if someone wants to guide me. I can't afford much I think I should have one. Moreover, I often feel that I am a Bengali so my English is the very weak to express what I feel and the committee members or the teachers sometimes get bored with what I say. Partially this is because of nerve problem as well.
Clarifications / details / updates:
- I did find the citation in the bibliography, so the only problem was the lack of an inline citation.
- My advisor and I discovered the issue during a final review. I mentioned in the discussion that a citation was missing. The next day, he canceled a meeting with me and I was informed that a misconduct hearing had been scheduled.
- In addition to the mental health issues, I also have some physical health issues that could be relevant (B12 deficiency, etc.)
As suggested I am confused with some comments as some people are claiming that I can't have oral defence before submission. Let me add timeline details:
17th of April: I have mentioned all the citation of the corresponding paper and after that, we have almost met 30 times on reviewing the thesis. Most of the discussions were till section 5 and I overlooked that I missed the citation on section 6 and was the major citation that I am realising.
12th of July: I have sent my thesis for review to the thesis committee.
16th of July: One committee member made some comments on half portion of my thesis and asked me to correct it( didn't have any information regarding plagiarism) but stated that in this current format the thesis is unacceptable.
17th of July: My defence scheduled on 24 by my advisor.
17th of July: Another committee member made some comments on one third portion of my thesis and asked me to correct it( didn't have any information regarding plagiarism). Some comments were common with the first committee member.
17th of July: My advisor emailed me that we need substantial improvement in the clarity of the writing to accept the thesis for graduation. Committee members will get comments to me by early next week. I should go through the comments as a high priority and send to me a new version. He will go through that new version again and mark any places that still need improvement. We will then go through those places together until they are acceptable. This final version will be returned to the committee for a final look. My advisor is away August 4-9, so this must be completed before he is out of communication.
This does not all need to be completed before the defence but does need to be completed before the format meeting with the graduate school. Note that the latest version you sent still has overruns into the margin which will cause the graduate school to reject your thesis. ( didn't have any information regarding plagiarism).
20th July: I was done with the part one comments of the 2nd committee member. 21st July: We had a meeting regarding defense.
24th July: Defended my thesis and did it successfully but was informed that current state of thesis is still concerning. Plan is to sit next week every day for hours and fix it and return it to the committee at the end of the week and upon satisfactory re-read the recommendation for conferral degree would be submitted.
27th July: Done with most of the comments of all committee members. 27th July: We first discover the citation problem in the thesis and my advisor told me that he will inform on how to fix it next day once he will read the other paper.
28th of July: My advisor cancelled the meeting stating that he will be in touch with me. By that night, I didn't hear back from him and asked whether he is ok or not! I was worried about pandemic going on in the states.
29th of July: I heard from my instructor that academic dishonesty report has been filed against me. I was also advised to inform the counselling centre as the proceedings will be very stressful.
30th of July: I have heard from the departmental head about my hearing is on Monday.
Is it called submission that I have done on 12 th of July because the committee sent me several comments to improve and I was improving that?
Further edited:(Missed one comment) My thesis has 6 sections in the first 5 sections I have given some new proofs of some known result and the last section I actually discussed someone's paper entirely. I did copy-paste the definitions the statement of the theorems, lemma and corollary directly like a verbatim in my undergrad I was advised to remember the theorems, lemma et all exactly and I tried to write the proofs in my own language.
**I am also wondering one thing that I completed my writing with a citation by 17th of April. Does any advisor check for plagiarism after that as we were doing grammatical and mathical corrections after that. Now after being reported I found that in see **