Glassman's Ph.D. work questioned

2005 UA dissertation shows passages that are not attributed
2010-09-30T00:00:00Z 2014-07-15T17:41:51Z Glassman's Ph.D. work questionedRhonda Bodfield Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 30, 2010 12:00 am  • 

U.S. Senate candidate Rodney Glassman is facing allegations he plagiarized some parts of his dissertation for his doctorate in arid land resource sciences.

The 246-page dissertation, completed in 2005, has many passages that match, nearly word for word, previously published scientific works by others.

The allegations first surfaced on a local, self-described "progressive" blog Wednesday.

While information in the public domain that amounts to "common knowledge" doesn't have to be cited, in academic papers, words must be placed in quotes if they're used exactly. Parenthetical citations are used when paraphrasing other people's ideas.

In response to Star questions, Glassman's campaign released a statement saying the dissertation included "original, experimental research" testing whether hands-on learning made a difference in classroom learning for 400 fourth-graders in the Vail School District.

"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," his spokesman, Blake Morlock, said, noting articles using the research were subsequently published nationally and internationally.

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 same Western Region paper has the sentence: "For nearly 50 years, such programs concentrated on preparing students for careers in production agriculture," which also appears in Glassman's paper word for word, without quotes or parenthetical references.

In another example, he writes, "Technological and economic forces have led to a reduction in the number of farms and a comparable increase in average farm size." Again, no quotes and no citations. But run that sentence through Google and you'll find a 1988 paper, "Understanding Agriculture: New Directions for Education."

Elsewhere in Glassman's dissertation, he noted, "The Food and Fiber Systems Literacy Framework explained what an agriculturally literate high school graduate should comprehend. Using a series of standards in five thematic areas, the framework delineated the necessary components for understanding the way food and fiber systems relate to daily life."

Those two identical sentences are found in a 2001 assessment by researchers at Oklahoma State and Southwest Texas State universities.

All but one of the examples cited above are from a Star review of Glassman's work, beyond the examples listed in the blog.

"These allegations raise serious questions about Rodney Glassman's integrity and fitness to serve in public office," said Sen. John McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.

Stuart Marsh, a professor who served on the dissertation committee, declined to comment, citing privacy concerns. James Knight, who also served on the committee, said he had not heard of the allegations and had not had a chance to see any of the documentation. He said direct passages from other works are required to have the proper citation.

Morlock said there would be no further comment beyond the statement.

Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at 573-4243 or rbodfield@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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