I am currently at a community college so I am not privy to the inner workings of the big university world but I am curious how this works.
Recently it has become headline news that a student from a prestigious Ivy League school apparently completed their PhD back in 2000 with a dissertation that contains significant amounts of plagiarism. The university has supposedly initiated a review (though they are officially taking the standard "no comment" position and also the more extreme position of not even confirming if they are conducting any investigation).
Note: Here is a link to the news article for those interested in the details but I do not want to make this Question all about the politics involved, I am interested the academia processes.
At first glance I was rather stunned that a school as prestigious as this one could have possibly accepted such extremely poor work and provided a PhD based on it but I guess even the best of us can make errors. What I want to know now is how such "fixing past mistakes" issues are typically handled.
Specifically I would like to know the following (based on your experience at your institutions):
(1) Would such a review process be limited to the dissertation itself or would all the work of the student be reviewed?
(2) Would such a review involve questioning the academic advisor/research supervisor? What about the thesis committee?
- (2a) On a sidenote: Would the thesis committee for a doctorate degree be obligated to check the research in detail or are they allowed to rely on the research supervisor for that task?
(3) Would such a review look at the theses of other PhD graduates who were under the same supervisor?
(4) What happens if such a review finds a doctorate is academically or ethically flawed? What, if any, penalties can be invoked against the student?
(5) If the outcome is to void the degree would the student be offered a chance to comment/defend or would the degree be revoked without warning?
(6) How long would such a review typically take to complete?
Because this Question is prompted by a high-profile incident I am not sure if any of the process used by Columbia University in this particular case will be "typical". For instance I can easily envision that some eager beaver investigative reporter will pull copies of all the theses with the same supervisor and look for more instances of plagiarism. If I can predict this I am just as sure that Columbia will do the same and want to get ahead of any exposé by both expediting the initial review and being comprehensive to prevent any further "unexpected" embarrassments.
That said, I would like to know what is/has been typical in such review processes before today.