Sunday, October 10, 2010
Plagiarism in educational journals
Sometime ago, an Indian professor alleged that one of his works had been shamelessly plagiarized by an American professor; the allegation was published in two parts in a leading English newspaper. A few months later, a similar charge was brought against some Indian academics. Just a few days later, newspapers reported plagiarism of an outrageous kind on the part of the vice-chancellor of an Indian university and his associates. In four of their papers published in three years, the VC and his associates had plagiarized the works of some foreign physicists. These plagiarisms were uncovered by one of the professors of the same university. The original author of one of the works, who was a professor of physics at
, alleged that the VC and his collaborators had "practically copied" a paper published by him six years ago. Predictably, the VC denied knowledge of the inclusion of his name in the papers in question. Not surprisingly, the professor who uncovered these plagiarisms was suspended. Stanford University
There is an endless stream of plagiarisms in Indian universities, and even the tabloid press is not interested in reporting them unless they are outrageously shocking. Our universities are no longer proud preserves of intellectuality. A typical modern professor is no longer a person of cerebral superiority who has retreated into the wilderness of the mind: you can't expect to find him hunched over dusty volumes in a musty library or puzzled over a chemical reaction in a laboratory. The modern counterpart of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is a nouveau intellectual who has mastered the techniques of achieving "success" with hare-brained intellectuality. Plagiarism is one of the means; he has got it down to a fine art.
It is not very difficult to get a plagiarized or a substandard article published in an Indian journal. In the year 2000, I edited two issues of a supposedly scholarly journal to which a professor submitted an article with recommendations from the president of the association which publishes the journal. Both times I rejected the article as being unworthy of publication. But it got published in the very next issue. I was not surprised. In this day and age of philistinism, it is natural for one person of "Maggi-noodle" intellectuality to empathize with another.
Given this situation, it is, indeed, surprising that the VC and his friends who had plagiarized the works of the
professor could not get off scot-free. Perhaps, they had gone too far in pushing their luck. Stanford University