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Your work is my work, DU mind?

One hundred plagiarised papers were caught in 2007 by leading science journal Current Science. And the four cases are just a few examples of high profile plagiarism in Delhi University, reports Swaha Sahoo.

delhi Updated: Aug 04, 2008 00:40 IST
Swaha Sahoo

One hundred plagiarised papers were caught in 2007 by leading science journal Current Science. And the four cases are just a few examples of high profile plagiarism in Delhi University, termed a centre of excellence.

With no severe punishment for such academic fraud and in the absence of guidelines, higher education institutions in the country are witnessing massive spread of the malaise.

“Even researchers from high profile institutes like the IITs, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Banaras Hindu University are indulging in plagiarism,” said Dr KL Chopra, president of Society for Scientific Values (SSV), which is dedicated to detecting scientific fraud.

Unfortunately many such cases either go unreported or are hushed up. “We have taken up Ranjit Singh’s case with the Board of Governors of NSIT and the Delhi government. But no action has been initiated against him,” said Chopra, who is also a former director of IIT Kharagpur.

G.K. Arora’s case was taken up with the executive committee (EC) of the university after the ‘victim’ failed to resolve the matter. “When the book was published in 2004, Kumar found that instead of using his name as co-author, Arora had merely acknowledged his help for collecting data in certain chapters,” said Dr Bhatti, EC member and a Supreme Court lawyer.

Legally a person can be terminated from service for violating copyright act, Bhatti said.

Kumar seconds the allegations. “When we decided to write the book, it was determined that Arora would write the chapters on globalisation and I would write on reorganisation,” claimed Kumar.

Many of his draft chapters, says Kumar, had been published in newspapers even before the publication of the book. Arora dismissed the allegations as false.

He said, “This is a private affair and it's being raised in public and in the EC. These allegations are being hurled because of personal biases.”

One likely reason for plagiarism seems promotions of teachers which are directly linked with the number of published papers and the number of PhD scholars under them.

“Teachers often don’t have the time or the means to do quality research. They want to produce papers just for the sake of promotion and resort to plagiarism,” said a senior Delhi University professor, on condition of anonymity.

Indian universities also lack any mechanism for vigilance and complaint redressal.

“The US has a Office of Research Integrity that was set up after a lot of plagiarism cases cropped up in Biosciences. We need an internal disciplinary body in every university that has enough teeth,” said Chopra.

“They should have the power to stop research funding if they find any discrepancy,” he said.

However, DU Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental warned against over regulation. “Too much of regulation can kill innovation and freedom. And every teacher has an unsaid code of conduct so signing documents will not help,” said Pental.

The university had initiated changes to make research more transparent, he said.

“Now university teachers have to update their CV every year so that we all know what research papers they have published and what work they are doing,” Pental added.