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Not sure if you've been following the story of a South Korean Prodigy, who tried to get his PhD degree based on a proceedings article (copyright protected) that his advisor has previously published thirteen years ago, by duplicating everything word-for-word, and rearranging some equations. Not surprisingly, his article was retracted. The advisor and the student are still claiming innocence and saying that the reviewers of the article are not experts of the field. Their case is currently under review by their institution.

What I'm curious about is what happens when graduate students or more senior people are caught by plagiarism. In my fifteen years or so as an academic, I have never seen a paper so blatantly plagiarized, and it got me thinking about what I would do if one of the graduate students committed such plagiarism, and if I were asked to reprimand those who have committed plagiarism in an academic capacity (note that I am not talking about undergraduate students).

I would think that there should be a pretty severe punishment, since when the undergraduate students are caught cheating or copying their homework assignments, after maybe a warning, their transcript contains a record of it. If they continue to cheat, they could get expelled. And obviously, doing this as an academic is a much more serious thing.

So I am interested in those who have served as deans, or otherwise some kind of academic integrity panel in your institutions. Do these things happen frequently (obviously on a smaller scale)? How did you deal with it?

  • OK, I have made another attempt. I'm still learning how stack exchange works, but thanks for your comments. It was (hopefully) helpful! – anonymous555 Nov 30 '15 at 2:32
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    I think it's much improved (I've deleted the comments which were about the previous version of this question.) – ff524 Nov 30 '15 at 2:37
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Different institutions have different policies in place; however, it is the duty of the author's institute to conduct a detailed investigation if there are allegations of plagiarism or any other form of misconduct. If the author/researcher is found guilty is confirmed, depending on the nature and extent of misconduct, one of more of the following actions may be taken by the institute:

  • At first, appropriate steps are taken to correct the damage
  • Letters of reprimand may be sent to the guilty persons
  • Sanctions are imposed on them
  • Their work may be closely monitored to ensure compliance with the funders' policies and publication ethics
  • The institute informs the funding agency and this can lead to suspension or termination of a grant
  • In extreme cases, the guilty person may be suspended or terminated from the institute If copyright violations or fraud is involved, the institute sends the findings of the investigation to the appropriate agencies. The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) releases the names of people guilty of misconduct on its website. This can damage the reputation of the researcher, and he/she might be banned from submitting papers to journals for a certain period.
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It depends very heavily on whether the plagiarism is reported before or after the degree is awarded.

If after the awarding, it's very hard to get discipline taken; you can find examples here on ac.SO. If before the awarding, it's possible - it depends on the integrity of the institution and whether it actually performs an impartial investigation and takes action. In the South Korean case, it was before the awarding.

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