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  1. Thanks for all of your responses! There are a few things I want to say though: - As I don't have a copy of the thesis that I used as a guide (and as I said, there are no electronic copies), I don't know how well I paraphrased. It could be that the paraphrase was good enough to escape notice. It could also not. I wouldn't even have the proof necessary to self-report/accuse. I had honestly thought I was not doing anything wrong by trying to paraphrase and then citing the primary sources. - As some people have noted, the chances of another undergrad reading my thesis and the other thesis at the same time, while noticing and being bothered enough about the similarities to report them are very slim, especially given that it would be years after I graduated. While obviously this hasn't prevented some other people from getting their degrees revoked, I don't recall verbatim lifting entire passages - I just recall trying to paraphrase the other thesis where there was background information relevant to my project and citing what he cited. Most people who have had their degrees revoked were at the master's or PhD level who plagiarized, usually by verbatim copying. Obviously, I have learned better citation practices from this. - I don't plan on becoming a public figure, and not just because of this; being a public figure can be extremely detrimental to one's mental well-being, as every move you make will be watched and you will have no privacy. Because I cannot even ascertain exactly what I did, I won't say anything for now, count my blessings, and do better with citations next time. If somehow I was able to see exactly what I did and believe that I would be better off making a self-report, then I could do that as well.
  2. Mostly, I'm concerned about another undergrad in my lab in later years reading both mine and the one that I used as a guide but ended up paraphrasing rather closely at the same time as to guide their own thesis-writing (so, doing the same thing I did - I also noticed similarities between theses but didn't report anything because I thought it was completely appropriate), and then reporting me to my PI and/or the honor council, who may or may not investigate (like I said, I already graduated). It's very unlikely but not entirely impossible.
  3. @TakeruK: I'm inclined to agree, mostly because I think the chances of someone dragging me in front of the honor council are very low, especially considering that it'll be years post-graduation if it ever comes to light (I have seen people getting in trouble years later, though they tend to be graduate-level theses and reported because they plagiarized literature that the accuser is familiar with), the violations, if I did commit them, are minor and affect mostly the background/methods, and the only people who could possibly notice what I did are undergrads (1-2 a year at most, and my PI is in his 60s) working in the same lab as I did writing honors theses (and even then, they most likely won't notice as it would require reading both of the theses at the same time, might not recognize the problems, and/or won't report). My undergrad does not seem to have a provision for reporting incidents that happened after the student graduated, though I don't know if that's just because they've never had it happen. I would never go into politics or public office anyways. Of course, my hope is that my thesis begins its rot into obscurity while I focus my efforts on doing better next time, though if for any reason there is attention drawn towards it I hope that my former PI will allow me to make corrections and treat me in good faith instead of making moves to uproot my life. @Hope.for.the.best: Neither of us submitted through plagiarism detection software. I do remember that our theses were structurally similar at points (with me adding in/removing sections that were relevant/irrelevant to my own work), and that I made (perhaps feeble) attempts at paraphrasing. @Sigaba: I say "most likely" because I don't remember what the previous student wrote (and as there are no electronic copies, I cannot get access to one without traveling back to my school), so I don't know how well I paraphrased things. Perhaps I paraphrased well enough for it to be a non-issue; I am just not sure. I did not notice any shift in tone in my own paper at any point, though that is more common in STEM, where there is less of an individual "voice" in writing style. Like I said though, whether I get away with it or not, it's a learning experience for me in terms of learning about what is appropriate citation practice and how not to repeat this in the future.
  4. Understood. Reading that article and reflecting back on what I did was definitely a lesson learned. My only fear was that a particularly observant undergrad in the same lab using prior theses as guides may notice and have me reported, though after a Google search my undergrad doesn't seem to have a provision for reporting an already-graduated student or for revoking a degree, though that could be because there was never a case which necessitated it. On the off chance that something does come up (like you said, slim to none chance) I am perfectly willing to make corrections if given the opportunity - I remember after submitting my rough draft, I had missed a few quotation marks and image citations and he just had me correct them on the edit instead of immediately reporting me to honor council, as he knew it was probably just an oversight and I meant no mal-intent. What I was saying in terms of me not claiming the introduction as original is that I cited the primary sources of my information, and therefore didn't claim the existing body of knowledge as my own. I just happened to use a prior thesis which let me know what pertinent information I should include, and I tried to paraphrase (perhaps not particularly well) that thesis while citing the primary sources, which I now know is improper. As for the methods, I will be sure to, in future work, cite any sources where it could have come from even if you weren't informed of the source yourself - I never learned that it was necessary until now. I will carry those lessons to my future work - it only stands to reason that I gained something from this.
  5. Just as a follow-up question to this one: Is it possible to be dismissed from a graduate program, after matriculation, for something that happened prior to applying to the graduate program? If the person who reported me finds out where I'm attending grad school via, say, Googling my name or checking my LinkedIn (which I will eventually need to apply for and online-network for jobs and such), could they plausibly send the post (again, it contained details of my mental health issues, including a fear/intrusive thought that I would snap and harm myself and others) to either my school or my PI and the grad school will dismiss me?
  6. I was reading an article recently about some public officials who had been accused of plagiarizing books or their PhD/law school theses, and I noticed something that really scared me. With some of them, what they did was copy close to verbatim passages from other articles or books which had citations in them, and they cited those same citations in the footnotes, without citing the secondary source (the passages in question were descriptions of a legal case or facts). If it matters, those officials did so in humanities, law, and/or international relations. In contrast, my thesis was in a STEM field. I was unaware that this is considered plagiarism, and realized that I had done something similar in my undergraduate honors thesis. I had looked at the thesis of a former student in the lab to guide me in how a thesis was written. His work was closely related to mine, and as I was short on time, I ended up writing an introductory and methods section that were most likely, in some sections, extremely similar in wording and style. For the introductory, I tried to paraphrase what he wrote and cite the same sources he did (I did check to see if the sources were accurate) on background information relevant to both of our projects, but I'm sure that a side-by-side look would spot the similarity, as the sections were mostly definitions and descriptions of things such as the structure of DNA and NMR spectroscopy - none of it original work, and neither of us claimed them to be original. For the methods, as I had used some of the exact same protocols and procedures that he did, I just wrote down what I did but the wording most likely ended up being extremely similar to his, enough to notice, with no citation given for that part because the protocol was just given to me orally by the grad student when I was starting out. I thought this wasn't an issue because the methods section is difficult to phrase in different words if the experimental protocol was the same. I passed the defense and the thesis was approved - my PI didn't notice any similarities. The parts of the thesis where I branched off in a different direction than that student I wrote without the aid of the previous thesis, and I cited sources as appropriate and reported my own work. My former PI stores hard copies of his students' theses on a shelf in his lab, and there is another hard copy in the university library, but there are no electronic copies available. I don't have the thesis of that former student with me. What I'm terrified of is that a future undergrad in the same lab might use my and that person's thesis as guides to writing their thesis, notice the similarities, report me to my former PI and/or the honor council, and get my degree revoked for plagiarism. It's been a year since graduation and I'm about to head into grad school. Do you think I am right to worry? If so, what should I do?
  7. How different? I don't plan on registering with the university, as my illnesses have never been bad enough for me to stop functioning (though there have been times where it's come close). All they have for evidence now, if it ever comes to light, would be a screenshot. And yes, I've heard that some universities suspend students for being mentally ill - my university was not one of them, and for that I'm glad. In fact, my university had amazing mental health resources available - so much that I think I got lulled into a false sense of security and got myself rescinded. In all honesty, I should sue them, but I don't think I'll accomplish anything I want from it. I don't want to go to a place where they don't want me, and don't want anything to do with a profession that would not only allow these things to happen, but celebrate it as "maintaining professionalism", on top of making their trainees work insane hours in the name of "education" (an issue in some fields of graduate study as well, especially organic chemical synthesis), and bullying their students in the name of "toughening them up". Not worth it for the job security, the prestige, or the money - or in my case, I was so scared of unemployment figures in other fields, especially science PhDs, that I thought I would be safe by locking myself in the MD box. I was, I think, wildly overreacting. (I apologize if it sounds like sour grapes. All of these problems are real and I knew about them beforehand - I just let fear dominate my thinking for the entirety of undergrad and ultimately let it consume me. No more.)
  8. When I was in the hearing for the medical school, they never explicitly mentioned the post that was sent to them in detail or said anything about me being a threat to the safety of the students. Instead, they merely alluded to the "unprofessional" nature of my blog posts in general (They said went through the entire blog...but the only things I can find other than that post that would upset them are some views on sociopolitical stuff, not inflammatory, and some criticisms of my undergrad culture. Perhaps they were worried I could criticize their school once I got there? I later learned that people have been expelled/dismissed for criticizing their medical school on social media, much like how people have been fired from jobs for doing the same.), the "pattern" of "misbehavior" that I displayed and talked about how what I posted was evidence I could not comply with the behavioral/social technical standards. But if they were worried about me being an active threat, they should have paid attention to the post I made shortly before graduation in which I talked about how I was feeling better. It was clear that they did not look at my entire history, even my online history...they must have focused on the parts that were offensive to them. I was in fact surprised that there was no mention of me being a threat to campus safety - my post expressed a fear of not being to control myself from hurting myself or others. If interpreted uncharitably, it could be seen as a veiled, if unintentional, threat. My intention was certainly not to threaten anyone - I was expressing my fears and anxieties and even talked about going to see a therapist and psychiatrist to get the issue checked out in that post. (I eventually did, and I was discovered to have intrusive thoughts stemming from an anxiety disorder, as well as a misunderstanding of what causes people to commit acts of violence as well as the role that mental illnesses play in that.) Perhaps they understood that I wasn't a threat, but dumped me anyway for other reasons, such as a fear I wouldn't be able to handle the stress, that I bring a bad name to the school, or that I am too opinionated and could offend a patient by posting about my views? It is clear that medical schools respond to and act upon unsolicited emails, even screenshots - in fact, this happens at the undergraduate level too. The 10 Harvard acceptees who were rescinded were posting their offensive memes in a private chat, which someone reported by posting screenshots. Of course, the admissions committee in graduate schools are research faculty as opposed to specialized admissions officers as in undergrad, but medical school admissions committee members are academic physicians with clinics and sometimes labs. So it could be argued that they do have the time to bother with it, if practicing physicians have the time to bother with it. The only question is would they be interested, given that they are most likely less concerned with the personal lives of their students, unlike in medicine where a physician's personal life can be scrutinized for professionalism. (People have been rescinded and expelled from medical school for a picture of themselves drinking, for example, even if it is legal. Yes, they can be that harsh.) I really hope that I will be able to be a productive (and employable!) scientist in graduate school and beyond - I had a high interest in it throughout college but went for medicine because it ostensibly has a better job market and I could do research with an MD. I just hope that I can put this behind me and that as long as I don't post anything of a similar nature that can be identifiable again, I won't have this past coming back to haunt me.
  9. What would be inappropriate social media usage, from a grad school standpoint? Would the content of what I posted (depression/anxiety, fear of "snapping" and losing control) classify? Would it be considered threatening/intimidating behavior? As for the nature of getting a graduate degree, I knew that from talking to graduate students during my research experiences as an undergrad. I also am returning to therapy and possibly looking at medication options once I return to school. As for the job market post-graduation, that is something that will be on the forefront of my mind - if I can't or am not willing to return to medicine, then I need to make sure that I don't sacrifice too much when it comes to being able to get and keep a job. Hence I tried to be very careful when it comes to choosing the field I'll be doing the PhD in (so NOT pure chemistry or biology due to the poor prospects in both), and will be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities especially outside of academia.
  10. Some schools are actually becoming more progressive about this sort of thing. However, my school most likely wasn't. It does mean though that I most likely cannot return to medicine even if I wanted to, and even though I was "withdrawn" rather than dismissed. It would have been too much on me physically and emotionally to do the job. While grad school is also stressful, I think that the freedom to, within reason, control your schedule and distribute workload according to your own preferences might be a saving grace, whereas with medical school you are expected to work at the times they tell you, which involves forced sleep deprivation at times. My decision to go into medicine was in large part due to the anticipated job market; but I've since learned that poor job markets for PhD STEM graduates are not absolute, are highly school-dependent (some schools feed better than others into industry and into good postdocs), and highly student dependent (as in, there is more onus to make *yourself* marketable). I didn't indicate that I was applying to grad school using my own social media, or my own name. However, someone who knows about my blog might frequent those sites where I posted about grad school using another username, and guess that the person is me, based on the fact that I mentioned the incident. I delete those posts and the account immediately after threads die to cover up evidence just in case they haven't taken screenshots yet and to prevent new people from searching (though I doubt they'll find anything given the blog is deleted). Even if they find anything here, they wouldn't learn anything they hadn't known already. There are over 100 schools in the fields that I applied to that exist, though a particularly astute person could guess at the "tiers" I applied at based on what they know of my application (not a whole lot besides the fact that I have some research experience, a good GPA, and good standardized test taking skills so good GRE). I haven't posted on my social media since graduating from college. I won't be posting anything until I settle in, but what about after? Can I actually get dismissed for that blog post that happened prior to grad school? I won't be revealing where I go to school to anyone but my Facebook friends (and only after matriculation), but just want to make extra sure just on the infinitesimal chance that one of my Facebook friends was responsible. That being said, if a medical school can be bothered to investigate a screenshot (and yes, this has happened, and not just to me), I can't see how grad schools wouldn't. I've also upped privacy settings such that only friends can search my "likes" (another way to deduce where I'm going to school), though I don't think Facebook is the main problem since I mostly only allow friends to see my posts, photos, and I keep my profile relatively clean in any case because I knew schools would search through it (the only thing I didn't expect was someone to go out of their way to snitch and report me).
  11. The blog is already closed down. However, I'm sure that person still has screenshots available, and may even have buddies that might know about the post - it might not just be one person that was involved in this. Telling the med school that my mental health is well-managed did nothing to help me. They were more upset about the fact that I posted it on the internet than the fact that I had the conditions, as it is "unbecoming of a physician" and is proof that I would not fulfill technical standards of admission and progression. What I'm concerned about is that the person might, because they know that I was previously admitted to med school and therefore have a high GPA, will most likely have a great GRE, and a fair amount of research experience, make guesses as to which grad schools I will apply to. They will not know for sure, but they could start spamming schools (as in, send reports to every school they think I applied to hoping to hit upon one) if they are seriously dedicated to destroying me. They could even, after I matriculate, see if I have any "telling" social media posts or photos giving away my location, and deducing where I'm going to school based on that (ex. a photo of, say, San Diego on Facebook could indicate that I'm going to UCSD, or a photo of New Haven could indicate that I'm going to Yale...not to say I applied to either, but just as an example. I'm upping privacy settings on Facebook but there's a small chance it is a FB friend of mine), and have me dismissed from the program after the fact. That is why I am concerned about whether it's considered inappropriate social media usage. That person could get lucky and hit upon a place where I plan on attending. I sincerely hope it isn't, not only for my personal sake but because it's sad to think that showing weakness or anxiety or being honest about my thoughts (if they're not inflammatory or prejudiced) could ruin my career. I want to be open, eventually, on Facebook at least, about where I'm going to my friends - I don't want to feel like I'm a fugitive in hiding forever. Hence I'm wondering if not only could I get rescinded for the blog post, but if I could get dismissed after matriculation. My college was amazing when it came to mental health resources and support. That was a double-edged sword though - I was lulled into a false sense of security, thinking medical schools would be similar given all the news about doctors having issues with mental health. The medical school didn't care that what they did could be argued as discrimination. Their argument is that my problem was in how I was unprofessional for posting about such illnesses and then making remarks suggesting that I wouldn't be able to control myself from "snapping" and hurting myself or others. I'm not sure if even grad schools would be able to tolerate that. As for the people who got rescinded from undergrad for these things, I think for the most part they got what they deserved - they were being intentionally inflammatory or depicting themselves engaging in illegal behavior. However, after this incident boiled over, I have heard of people getting rescinded from medical school admissions for a photo of themselves drinking, blog posts expressing a distaste for clinical medicine, or getting dismissed from a residency program for posting about kneeling in solidarity with NFL protesters. Those are I what think are totally unjustified - the actions were totally legal, are not harmful to anyone, and in the latter case is actually admirable (though I could see where the residency program could argue that making political statements should be forbidden because patients might get offended, which was the case).
  12. Medical schools have a lot of leeway in terms of how they define "professionalism". Mental health issues weren't the only thing they found, though that was probably the "worst" given that in that post I mentioned that I was afraid of being a threat to myself/others. They also found posts talking about political and social issues and posts about my undergrad (and some measured criticisms of the culture of my undergrad). If I try to sue them on mental health issues, they could bring up the other stuff, which wouldn't be considered a problem in isolation but according to them part of a "pattern" of "unprofessional behavior" and they were concerned at how my online presence would impact my relationships with my classmates, superiors, and most importantly, patients. Also, I'm not all too interested in being reinstated. All else being equal, I'd prefer doing research for a living, and I enjoy the culture I've found among the research-oriented people over the premed culture.
  13. If someone were to do a full investigation on my previous online activity (which is what the med school did after they got the blog post), they would find in addition to that post certain political/social issue-related posts. None are particularly inflammatory, though they are weird in that they focused on campus social justice issues, in which I harshly criticized certain activists and used a collective term to refer to them that is derogatory, but rarely heard of outside the internet. Those too have been deleted but could be screenshotted by someone out to build a case against me. All of these are at least 2 years in the past, however. As for the post that got me rescinded, the med school actually held a hearing with me in which I was to explain what I did. It was very much a formality though; they pretty much already decided the outcome before the hearing. Afterwards, they said that although I "did a good job at the hearing" and that I showed the appropriate remorse, it was decided that my violations of the technical standards were "very clear" and that forcibly withdrawing me from the institution (not dismissal) would be in their best interests. I was encouraged to apply to other med schools or grad schools as I see fit.
  14. If there's anything that could be under those, it's the remarks I made that could be interpreted as me being at risk of hurting myself or others. They were of course made over a year ago and I haven't done anything to that effect, but would that be considered to be creating a "chilling" environment or threatening others? Neither did I, but I wanted to try med school because I liked the science of medicine and it has an excellent job market. I enjoyed research more and knew that since mid-college, but I thought of the difference in job security and scared myself into going for med school even though I was probably a better fit for grad school. My problem, though, was not that I got depression in grad school. My problem was that I posted about it on a blog, complete with fears of "not being able to control if I" inflict harm on myself or others, and although I'm not in that place now, all it took was a particularly vengeful person (who might not even be pre-med...just someone who didn't like me for whatever reason) to sink me.
  15. Thanks for your sympathy, even if you couldn't answer the question. I honestly didn't realize that stigma was still a major issue - I had thought that given all the attention that's been paid towards depression among medical professionals, that they wouldn't do something like this. At least they were humane enough to officially allow me to withdraw, instead of recording it as a dismissal. The main problem I see with it coming back to haunt me is that there are a couple of lines in that post which suggest I was at risk of harming myself or others (I later learned that they were intrusive thoughts triggered by an anxiety disorder), which I'm not sure if even grad schools in STEM would tolerate. It's been over a year since I said that and I haven't harmed myself or others, nor do I plan on doing so, but I'm just worried that a particularly dedicated troll or hater who spends a lot of time online could dig it up and then spam email all the well-known schools in my field (since I posted elsewhere on the internet my field) hoping that they'll hit upon one that I was planning on attending. It sounds like some paranoid delusion, but considering that someone managed to send to the medical school a blog post from an obscure website that very few have ever heard of, I can't ever underestimate the dedication of stalkers.
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