Alleged Plagiarism case in Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar: A Global View
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Date: Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Subject: OTN: Alleged plagiarism case in Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar: A Global View
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After reading a report in the Times of India (27th March 2012), I went back to read the original article written by ex-VC of Sambalpur University Prof. Arun Kumar Pujari.  In his blog www.sweekaarokti.blogspot.in Prof. Pujari posted a write-up entitled “Plagiarism and Jyoti Vihar”.
Here is the link to original blog post by Prof. AK Pujari:
The blog post of Prof. AK Pujari starts with the plagiarism row happened in IISc Bangalore. This incident made headlines in India while it was found that a publication by Prof. Rao, Prof. Krupanidhi along with two students Basant Chitara and L. S. Panchakarla lifted few sentences from another publication. Later the authors apologized to the journal. Not only that, the lead authors even wrote to the editor to withdraw the paper. But, the article was retained by the editor citing its importance. Basant Chitara (the PhD student) had said that he had lifted few sentences without realizing its consequence.
Recently, I came to know that the Hungarian president Pal Schmitt was stripped of his doctorate title for plagiarism and later he had resigned from his job because of this case. Similarly, earlier a German minister Mr. Guttenberg gave up his doctorate title because of plagiarism.  I can just go on as there are thousands of such examples. Two academician, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky have been maintaing a nice blog on plagirism (http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/) and alerting the research community about it. I often visit this blog and find it useful.
These incidents indicate following things:
Culture and attitude problem:
We are promarily a copy paste society. In most of our primary schools we start mogging everything before the examination and we write exactly what is written in books. Such practices are common across India as it fetch marks to students. I was told by some of my IIT Madras friends that some of the IIT-coaching centres too follow similar practices. But, at the end students succeed in examination and this makes both the students and their parents happy. But in this process a part of the creativity is lost.
Lack of knowledge about plagiarism among Masters and PhD students:
In most of the Indian Universities there are no short term courses to on plagiarism. Various Universities in the Netherlands and Germany, where I have done most of my research work do organize seminars and short term courses on plagiarism. Such activities make the students aware of the consequences of plagiarism and how to avoid such cases. Recently, in India IITs, IISc and other institutes are taking initiatives to organize such awareness programmes.
Lack of time to supervise Masters and PhD students:
Plagiarism cases are common in the group where professors are heavily engaged in research and teaching without thinking about their time availability. Many Professors think that having well equipped labs and whole lot of research students will fetch them good numbers of publications. But, doing good science is not about labs and students. It is also about regular discussions (of (literature and research findings) with research students, proper supervision and thorough checkup of the manuscripts. Some times Professors are unable to perform all these duties because of lack of time and large size of the group. Thus, my conclusion is that the group leaders should give adequeate time to PhD students. They should instruct each new students on how to write a manuscript and also, let the students know about the consequences of plagiarism.
Too much work pressure:
Every now and then some supervisors ask the research students to produce results and publish papers. Because of too much pressure; some cases of plagirisms are reported with regard to scientific result manipulation.
After having analyzed the possible causes of plagiarism; let us take a look on the case of Sambalpur University case. Prof. AK Pujari mainly talks about two things: i) students are coping from teacher’s notes, books, and from internet sources while writing the examination. and ii) Plagiarism of PhD thesis books in Sambalpur University. The first thing is common acsoss in India and as I have pointed out earlier it is a cultural problem. Here as a society we need to change.
Now let us take a look on the allegations by Prof Pujari about the PhD thesis plagiarism in Sambalpur University. I have nothing against Prof. Pujari. But, why Prof. Pujari was so far silent in this case? He has said that he was threatened. However, I feel that, he could have formed a committe to look in to this matter as soon as he was aware of it. In most of the European Universities there are committees to investigate cases of plagiarism and to punish the academicians. Why Prof. Pujari did not constitute such a committe for Sambalpur University? If, what he says is true, then he was just watching helplessly while there was growing plagiarism in Sambalpur University. In this regard, Prof. Pujari owe a proper explanation to all aluminous , present students and staff of Sambalpur University.
Immediately, the present VC, Prof. Barik should call a meeting of the senate, members of student council, members of staff council, and alumni association. After that a committee should be formed to investigate the case of plagiarism of PhD thesis in Sambalpur University. In the mean time, Prof. Pujari should prepare a list of PhD thesis which he think are plagiarised. In fact, he should handover this list and other evidences to chancellor-his highness Shri Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, VC of Sambalpur University, Media and other SU affiliated bodies.
At this point, there is no point in attacking each other (as reported in TOI and other new papers). Let the investigation complete and it will be for all of us to see the truth. In fact, the Sambalpur University authority should scan the alleged plagiarized PhD thesis and put it on the internet; so that, we can check for ourselves if the allegations made by ex-VC are true. If the allegations are found to be false, then the University authority should file a defamation case against Prof. Pujari and proceed further.
Dr. Sanjib Kumar Karmee, PhD
Alumnus, Sambalpur University (MSc Chemistry, 2000 Batch),