COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - In a battle between Ph.D.s, one professor claims another one plagiarized her book for a doctoral thesis, and that the plagiarism was so egregious that Ohio State University rescinded the second professor's degree.
In her federal complaint, Montana Miller accuses Elisabeth Nixon of willful copyright infringement.
Miller describes herself as a "nationally known and widely regarded professor of folklore and ethnographic research methods." Miller, of the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State, got her Ph.D. from UCLA in 2003. She says her thesis, "Every 15 Minutes Someone Dies: How People Play in a Staged Drunk Driving Tragedy," was published in 2004.
The manner in which it was published is not clear from the complaint, which states: "In furtherance of her goal of becoming a tenured faculty member, Dr. Miller has revised and updated 'Every 15 Minutes' to be published in book form."
Defendant Nixon got her Ph.D. from Ohio State in 2006, in anthropology and folklore. She is "a member of the adjunct faculty at Western Kentucky University, Otterbein College, Franklin University, and Columbus State Community College," according to the complaint. Her thesis was called, "Playing Devil's Advocate on the Path to Heaven: Evangelical Hell Houses and the Play of Politics, Fear and Faith."
Miller claims that "many portions of Nixon's dissertation are exact copies" of "Every 15 Minutes.
The complaint includes 18 pages of side-by-side comparisons of texts.
Miller claims that after she complained, "the Ohio State University's Committee on Academic Misconduct held a hearing regarding Ms. Nixon's plagiarism of 'Every 15 Minutes'" and "concluded that Ms. Nixon had, in fact, plagiarized Dr. Miller's dissertation."
Miller states: "The Committee on Academic Misconduct also requested that OSU's Board of Trustees revoke Ms. Nixon's doctoral degree and directed OSU's libraries to remove all hard copies of Ms. Nixon's dissertation from circulation and to withdraw any and all copies of the dissertation that are published and distributed electronically under the auspices of OSU, including, specifically, OhioLINK and ProQuest. ...
"Ms. Nixon appealed the Committee's decision to the OSU Provost. The Provost, however, confirmed the Committee's decision in all respects."
Miller seeks damages for copyright infringement and "the seizure and destruction of all materials containing unauthorized excerpts or copies of any portion of 'Every 15 Minutes.'"
She represented by Amanda Wickline.