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Professional Ethics

In institutions of higher learning, special attention is necessary when teaching personnel detects plagiarism in a student’s work. However, there is no sufficient information on how students should respond in the event of discovering that professors or advisors plagiarize their work . Fatima is a good example of such incident as depicted in the predicament in question. Plagiarism is the use of another person’s ideas without giving them credit. When writing dissertations, it is imperative for students to know what plagiarism constitutes. In fact, this is also applicable to drafts as well as oral presentations. The bottom line is that any content which is not original should have reference to the owner. The paper will demystify a case of a student (Fatima) who learned that her dissertation advisor had published a journal that plagiarized her letters, field notes, and data reports.

Fatima should confront her advisor and seek an explanation of her discovery. However, she cannot start handling this situation immediately as apparently, she experiences outrage and might lose her temper at some point during the confrontation. Furthermore, such revelation infuriated Fatima, and she is likely to confront the advisor with an unfriendly attitude. Therefore, she can consider sending an email to the dissertation advisor and raising the issue in a polite manner. In the email, she should ask for clarification as to how his publication relates to her dissertation work. In fact, it would be better if she tries acting professional by sending an email rather than addressing him face-to-face, because she might not be in a position to hide her wrath. After all, he is still a dissertation advisor, and blatantly accusing him of plagiarizing might lead to a negative response from the university administration.


The nature and context of the email correspondence will tell whether there will be a face-to-face meeting and when it should take place. By this time, Fatima hopefully will have regained her composure and will have been ready to face the unpleasant conversation. Nevertheless, there is no justification for failing to give Fatima’s works credit after using her letters, field notes, and data reports. In an attempt to address this issue, Fatima should understand that using another person’s work without citing the author is plagiarism, regardless of whether the university or another individual holds the copyright of her dissertation.  Additionally, the advisor’s actions are considered misconduct, and, therefore, it is important to hear his side of the story and what he has to say about the issue.

In fact, the advisor’s behavior is inappropriate and does not speak highly of his work ethics. For this reason, Fatima should ensure that students receive full credit for their ideas and not allow the advisor to benefit from it. It is also important to review some of the main rules related to the copyright of the scientific works as it will be helpful in their one-on-one meeting. The regulations will help to suggest an adequate solution in the event of such a scenario happening in future.  Additionally, it will also serve as a lesson and reference point for students and colleagues who might find themselves in a similar predicament in future.

Fatima should also turn to the department head with her discovery after bringing it to the attention of her dissertation advisor. This is partly because other members of the committee has already read the articles in the publication and expected him to cite her dissertation. For this reason, it is important to settle the argument with the department head and ensure that the committee is satisfied with the solution. However, considering the cunning nature of most students, the university will check whether the professor had used her original ideas in his publication. For this reason, Fatima should find time to collect verifiable documentation to support the claims that her scientific advisor plagiarized her work. Fatima has to prove that the professor used her ideas in his publications, falsely pretending that they are his own contribution. However, it is a challenging process, because the university administration is likely to be on the advisor’s side. Therefore, Fatima’s allegations can only be credible if she takes enough time to prepare evidence that would prove that she has not received any credit for her work in the professor’s publication. Similarly, Fatima will also find it useful to check with the intellectual property policies in the university, especially in the education faculty. Such information will enlighten her on the status quo, enabling her to confront the current issues in the light of the provisions outlined by the institution. Again, addressing the department head will be a key step in resolving the issues between the parties involved and taking a disciplinary action if necessary.

Fatima should not fail to mention such illicit activities of the professor, because it will be a sign that she institutionalizes such behavior. Furthermore, the dissertation advisor can take advantage of Fatima’s tolerance and continue to plagiarize other student’s work. Such conduct is considered power abuse, which can trigger further social disparities in institution of higher education. Therefore, students, including Fatima, should immediately inform the dean’s office about similar illegal activities. Additionally, the failure to report the issue means the committee is likely to accuse Fatima of plagiarism, because it will appear as though she used the advisor’s publication without giving him the credit he deserves. As a result, she will face the necessary disciplinary actions outlined by the university, which can substantially inhibit her academic success. Therefore, the failure to report the issue will only aggravate the situation and have a detrimental effect on her education.

In fact, Fatima has a limited number of options at her disposal that could be helpful in addressing this issue. The bottom line is that the advisor plagiarized some extracts from her dissertation, and she can only report to the relevant channels and protocol. Moreover, she has to be careful, because the issue is very delicate. She has to prove that her work was actually plagiarized, and she is not the one who plagiarized. For this reason, it will be crucial to resolve this issue using methods that are open to everyone concerned. Fatima’s success in bringing justice is dependent on her ability to give sufficient evidence that the work published by her advisor was not original.


Students’ attempt to plagiarize is reported to the faculty of post-doctoral studies. However, the issue of plagiarism becomes complicated if a professor or dissertation advisor copies the students work. Plagiarism is an issue of concern in most of the higher learning institutions, especially if professors or dissertation advisors are involved in such activities. Therefore, the act of dissertation advisor is unethical and unprofessional, because he is supposed to give students advice, not poach from them. In fact, plagiarism discredits the professionalism of the advisor and questions his work ethics. A dissertation advisor should not take advantage of his position and students naivety for pursuing his own goals or making profit. It is an unfortunate incident, because it can jeopardize student’s academic success or even delay their graduation, which is a major drawback. In general, Fatima can handle this issue by addressing the right channels and keeping the case open to the public.