What Is Dissertation Plagiarism?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Dissertation plagiarism consists of work found within a person’s dissertation that is not original and represents content either stolen from someone else’s work or written by another person for the dissertation itself. This type of plagiarism can be grounds for a dissertation being rejected, and may result in the expulsion of the plagiarist from the school or program he or she is attending. Dissertation plagiarism often violates the codes of conduct for a university, and such plagiarism violates the very purpose of a dissertation.

Much like other forms of plagiarism, dissertation plagiarism is an act in which someone uses the work of another person and claims it as his or her own. This can be done in different ways, though it usually stems from a person taking ideas and work of another person without citing that other person’s work, or a person having someone else write parts or all of a dissertation for him or her. A dissertation is usually a long paper, which typically presents a great deal of work, original thought, and new ideas from the student.


Since dissertation plagiarism stems from a student using the work of someone else in his or her dissertation, it therefore violates the very purpose of the work. While someone may present the ideas of another person in his or her dissertation, to present traditional or opposing views for example, these must be cited properly. This means that the person whose work is being used is named and the dissertation demonstrates that these ideas are coming from another person. Dissertation plagiarism usually arises when the work is not properly cited, or when the writer of a dissertation takes credit for the content that stems from another source.

Work in a dissertation that was not written by the person taking credit for that dissertation can also constitute dissertation plagiarism. The purpose of a dissertation is for a student to demonstrate his or her own ideas. When someone has another person “ghost write” his or her dissertation, then the ideas are no longer original for that person. This type of dissertation plagiarism can be difficult to identify, however, unless a student directly receives his or her dissertation from a database of previous dissertations.

Regardless of what type of dissertation plagiarism a student commits, the result is often severe punishment by the school. Inadvertent plagiarism may merely result in the rejection of a dissertation and the student may need to revise and rewrite the dissertation. If a student is found to have purposely committed plagiarism, however, then he or she might be expelled from the school and may have difficulty finding acceptance at another university.


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