Monday, June 24, 2024

About that Doctorate: Dexter Suggs, Plagiarist

William Ralph Inge once wrote, “Originality is undetected plagiarism.” Whether that is true or not, it is useful in a meta sense, as quoting Inge directly means that the use of his words is not plagiarism in this particular instance.

Now, as a general rule, there are few things that educators dislike more than plagiarism. Ask any high school English teacher what the biggest problems are with her students’ assignments and plagiarism will always rank higher than comma-splice errors or split infinitives. In the Little Rock School District, for example, plagiarism is punished by, among other things, a student’s receiving no credit for the assignment.

Which, I suppose, means it’s a good thing for LRSD Superintendent Dexter Suggs that his dissertation for his doctorate in education was not an assignment for an LRSD class.

This is Dr. Suggs’s 2009 dissertation, entitled “The Impact of Middle School Principal Leadership on the Integration of Technology in Selected Middle Schools within the Indianapolis Public School District.”

If you scroll to page 120 in the PDF (118 in the numbered pages within the PDF), you will not see “Scott, Georganne (2005). Educator Perceptions of Principal Technology Leadership Competencies.” This omission is particularly glaring, mainly because “Dr.” Suggs lifted entire pages of his dissertation from this 2005 dissertation.

Consider the following (and note that Suggs’ dissertation is on the left in all of these comparisons):

Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.29.33
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.30.01
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.28.29
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.27.43
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.27.13
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.26.43
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.26.04
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.25.30
Screenshot 2015-04-15 14.24.50

Now, I’m not an English teacher, but, in my opinion, that’s a whole lot of nearly verbatim copying of someone else’s dissertation without attribution.  Not that you could really cite a source that you basically ripped off word for word.  I leave it to the English teachers who happen across this post to determine if you would merely fail this student or if you would turn him in for this blatant theft of someone else’s work.

But, hey, at least that’s the only instance of plagiarism in his dissertation, right?

(Spoiler: No. No, it’s not. More to come on this when I am no longer sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.)

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