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SNU Test Makers Accused of Plagiarism

Posted March. 07, 2007 06:48,   


Seoul National University (SNU) has been accused of plagiarism after claims that math essay questions in its entrance exam were copied from textbooks and assignments from prestigious American universities sparked debate.

Six of SNU’s mathematical science essay problems in three admission exams between 2005 and February this year appear to be imitations of exercises found in Harvard University textbooks, assignments, and Japanese math textbooks, asserted Gomschool, a website offering free online tutorials, on March 6.

“The second text in the trial exam for humanities students conducted last February titled ‘probability in HIV infection rate’ and the first question linked to it are exactly the same as those found in ‘Randomness’ written by Deborah J. Bennett and published by the Harvard University Press,” said Yeo Sang-jin, chief of the Lee Beom Mathematical Science Essay Research Institute, which is leading the accusations together with Gomschool.

“The first example problem asking for the ‘number of handshakes in the party’ which was in the 2005 November exam for natural science applicants was also copied from ‘Visual Solutions’ by Akiyama, a Japanese textbook published in 1994. It has only changed the numbers; the kernel of the problem is basically the same.”

Responding to the charges, the Office of Admissions at SNU commented, “Bennett’s ‘Randomness’ quotes were from research presented in 1974 and we did nothing but use the same research. There are numerous works that referred to this study and ‘Randomness’ is one of them.”

The office refuted other allegations as well, saying, “They are by no means plagiarism. They are just questions famous enough to show up in textbooks in other countries.”