Fun With Google -- Rodney Glassman's Ph.D. Dissertation: Plug in a Sentence and See Who Actually Wrote it

Aside from having a law degree, U.S. Senate candidate Rodney Glassman has a Ph.D. in arid-land-resource sciences.

The subject of arid-land-resource science may bore you to tears, but his dissertation on the subject is somewhat entertaining. That's because it seems some of it was written by someone else and not properly cited in Glassman's work.

We had the (ahem) pleasure of thumbing through Glassman's dissertation after concerns were raised that parts of it may have been plagiarized. It seems Glassman, at the very least, was a little clumsy with his quotation marks -- or the lack thereof.

The way plagiarism works is if you quote something word-for-word it needs to be in quotations. In an academic paper, if an idea is used, but not explained word-for-word, it needs to be followed by parenthetical citations.

There are several instances in Glassman's dissertation where complete passages are found, word-for-word, in other scientific works published before Glassman's paper. They're not cited at all

This is how citation works, Rodney -- From the Arizona Daily Star:

In the introduction discussing the "agrarian tradition in the United States," for example, the former Tucson city councilman wrote, "From these humble beginnings, the process by which Americans have been taught about the art and science of using renewable resources has expanded and changed many times."

There are neither citations nor quotation marks, although the same quote appears in a July 1999 research summary by the Western Region Coordinating Committee for Agricultural Literacy.

That's just one instance. There are several others. Check out the original analysis conducted by a self-described "progressive" blog here.

Following the allegations, Glassman's campaign issued a statement saying "his research, dissertation, and Ph.D. were reviewed, guided, and approved by his committee of tenured, research academics from the University of Arizona College of Agriculture."

Maybe so -- but it seems like at least some of it was also "reviewed" by anyone who read the July 1999 research summary by the Western Region Coordinating Committee for Agricultural Literacy.

Anyone with some time on their hands -- and who can suffer through 246 pages about arid land resource sciences -- is invited to partake in a little game. All you do is take passages from Glassman's dissertation, plug them into Google, and see if it was originally written by someone else. There's never a winner -- even if you find a match you've spent more time than anyone ever should reading about arid land resource sciences.

Here's a link to Glassman's dissertation -- have at it.

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James King
Contact: James King