Plagiarism

UCLA rejects 52 MBA applicants for plagiarism

February 2, 2012: 10:42 AM ET

All told, UCLA's Anderson school found that 52 MBA candidates were lifting whole paragraphs from other, unattributed sources in their essays. And they are far from the only B-school dealing with the problem.

By John A. Byrne, contributor

(Poets&Quants) -- Andrew Ainslie had a hunch.

Like many of his business school colleagues, the senior associate dean of UCLA's MBA program had watched the fairly significant rise in admission consultants over the years. Some now estimate that as many as half the applicants to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton now employ consultants to give them an edge in polishing their applications to business school.

"We've had a concern for a while that there has been increasing use of these so-called consultants who help applicants with their applications," said Ainslie. "Many of these consultants are ethical and do the right thing. But quite a few of them either write the essays themselves or pull them out of catalogs."

So for the first time, UCLA's Anderson School of Management decided to put all the essays submitted by applicants to a test. It would use software from a company called Turnitin to scan the essays and see if they contained passages that had been used before in other essays or somewhere on the web.

"So our initial hypothesis was that the same essays would show up and be recycled by the consultants," added Ainslie. "What we actually found is just wholesale copying of massive chunks of stuff from websites or … of articles or Wikipedia. Essentially, they [some MBA applicants] are just plagiarizing."

The upshot: UCLA's business school rejected a dozen applicants for plagiarism during its first admission round, which ended Oct. 26. And then it rejected another 40 applicants during its second round, which ended Jan. 11. All told, the school found that 52 MBA candidates were lifting whole paragraphs from other, unattributed sources in their essays. More

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