Textual Appropriation in Engineering Master’s Theses: A Preliminary Study

TitleTextual Appropriation in Engineering Master’s Theses: A Preliminary Study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsEckel, EJ
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Pagination469 - 483
Date Published9/2011
ISSN Number14715546
KeywordsAuthorship , education , ENGINEERING , plagiarism
AbstractIn the thesis literature review, an engineering graduate student is expected to place original research in the context of previous work by other researchers. However, for graduate students for whom English is a second langue, the literature review may be a mixture of original writing and verbatim source text appropriated without quotations. Such a use of source material make students open to an accusation of plagiarism. This author studied the text strings from a random sample of 100 engineering masters theses to see if such textual appropriation is common. The results suggest that textual borrowing may indeed be a common feature of the master's thesis literature review, raising questions about the ability of graduate students to synthesize the literature. The study also illustrates the difficulties of making a determination of plagiarism based on simple textual similarity.
Short TitleSci Eng Ethics
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