Sofia’s Master Thesis was Plagiarised – by Her Mentor

- in News

This September a postgraduate, a professor and lecturer at Lund University were charged with plagiarising two students’ master theses. Sofia Hallerbäck is one of the students whose paper was plagiarised.

By: Nina Morby
Translated by: Viktor Jönsson

In the fall of 2015, Sofia Hallerbäck and a classmate were in Mozambique. There they did field research which was to be the basis for their respective master theses. They had the same three mentors, and both were later asked to be co-writers of an article in the periodical Water.

“We kept contact via email, and I sent charts, data, and the work for my bachelor thesis. After that, I didn’t hear anything for a few months, which I thought was strange. When we finally got an answer, they wrote that the article had already been published. I was extremely shocked”, says Sofia Hallerbäck.

Sofia contacted her classmate and they discovered that the article was very similar to their master theses. In the conviction, it was stated that 18 passages and a diagram had been plagiarised from their work.

“On one occasion I found a sentence and thought ’I remember writing this sentence’”, she says.

Sofia Hallerbäck. Photo: Anders Blomberg

Before Sofia and her classmate decided to report the matter, they wanted to give the postgraduate, the professor and the lecturer a chance to explain.

“We asked why they removed us as co-writers and didn’t reference our work. They responded that our work wasn’t scientific enough. After that we reported them”, she says.

Sofia does not think that the University should make allowances for plagiarism, even if those guilty have been under stress.

“We’re supposed to have truthfulness in science. As a student, our works are checked via Urkund, and it’s supposed to be equal for everyone, if not harder, for “real” science”, she says.

But Sofia does not experience that her trust for Lund University has been damaged because of this incident.

“In a way, this process has been positive, because the Research Misconduct Review Board took our charge very seriously. But my trust in the institution and those who plagiarised has of course been destroyed because of this, but that is more on a personal level. It feels as if it’s about insufficient routines”, says Sofia Hallerbäck.

Anders Ahlberg, senior lecturer at Academic Development Unit at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH), states in an email to Lundagård that no measures are yet determined, only that they will be very severe.