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Education Minister Nominee Under Fire for Plagiarism Allegations

Education Minister Nominee Under Fire for Plagiarism Allegations

Posted July. 09, 2008 07:48,   


Education Minister-nominee Ahn Byong-man came under fire Tuesday after allegations surfaced he plagiarized his pupil’s thesis.

Given Ahn’s thesis and that of his pupil’s were written at the same time, Ahn is suspected to either have used his pupil’s survey data or plagiarized his thesis.

The survey subjects and methods of Ahn’s paper entitled “Rural Residents’ Political Attitudes – Political Efficacy and Trust,” published by the Korean Political Society in December 1983, were found to be identical to those of a public administration professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies who Ahn supervised. The professor, identified as Kim, submitted his thesis entitled “Korean Farmers’ Perception on the Government – Focusing on Efficiency and Trust in the Government” in February 1984.

The two theses were written based on the survey results of 532 rural residents living in 30 villages in Gyeonggi Province and North Gyeongsang Province, which were conducted from July through September in 1983. Four tables and three out of 10 pages of Ahn’s thesis were the same as Kim’s thesis.

To this, Kim said that he wrote his thesis in two months based on the survey results and that Ahn’s thesis was published in December 1983.

However, experts say Kim’s claim is not convincing considering current practices where thesis outlines are generally submitted in August or September and thesis examinations completed in early December.

In addition, given Kim’s survey used a five-step question method and Ahn’s survey a three-step, it’s highly likely that Ahn exploited Kim’s data.

Though the two theses are dependent on the same data, the contents differ. Some of the questions in Ahn’s thesis were missing in Kim’s survey sheets. In a bid to prevent scholars from producing a separate thesis using part of a survey, academia has made a rule that entire survey sheets must be included in the thesis.

Kim has made it clear that he utilized Ahn’s analytic framework and data when writing his thesis. But if it is true, Ahn will face another accusation that he aided his pupil’s plagiarism.

Kim also defended Ahn, saying, “Professor Ahn at the time reduced the survey format to a three-step one to analyze in a more detailed manner. Five pages of Ahn’s thesis are identical to mine. But that’s my fault, not his.”

On the question why Kim missed the deadline for submission, Ahn dodged the answer and only said, “Kim was so diligent that he completed the thesis over a short period of time.”

Ahn is also being criticized for self-plagiarism. He published a comparative study of villages in China`s Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Korean rural regions in a college journal in December 1995, and another entitled “A Comparative Study of Perceptions between Yanbian Ethnic Korean Residents and Korean Rural Residents,” in the college journal “China Study” in December 1996.

But the former’s survey methods and subjects are the same as the latter, and six identical tables and graphs are featured in both studies. Some of the same figures were arranged according to different items and, in some graphs, X axis and Y axis were reversed. Ahn made public that he wrote the 1996 study with research funds from the Korea Research Foundation, but he mentioned nothing about the 1995 study.

Ahn claimed that there is no problem with the two studies because he wrote the one in 1996 by further developing the one in 1995.