Plagiarism continues to haunt the academia as the Higher Education Commission (HEC) blacklists 13 more plagiarists, while the body waits for universities to take action against such faculty members.
The situation took a new turn in the recent days when the Higher Education Commission blacklisted more than a dozen faculty members of several universities amid the furore already created by the blacklisting of 21 faculty members.
The HEC has published the names of research papers, which has now scaled up to 34, teachers and sources from which the content was copied on its website.
Most of the cases were either referred by somebody from within the universities or by the authors of the original papers, as the HEC has no policy to review every research paper or thesis of students in the country’s 160-plus universities.
In its updated list, the HEC has named three teachers from Punjab University, Lahore, five from Shaheed Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Larkana, four from Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam, four from Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences for Women, Benazirabad, and one each from International Islamic University Islamabad and Preston University, Islamabad.
The teachers were blacklisted for plagiarising content in their research papers, thesis from other sources without attribution and proper sourcing. Earlier in March, the HEC and President of Pakistan actually awarded two teachers that have made their way to the plagiarists’ list. Investigations against their appeals are underway.
Law of the land
Under the HEC’s plagiarism bylaws, any person found plagiarising academic work con be penalised under one of three categories — major, moderate and minor. The penalty in major cases is dismissal from service, while people involved in moderate plagiarism can be demoted or blacklisted. The minor penalty is warning the professor and freezing all research grants to him or her.
Blacklisted faculty members on the HEC website are active and working in their respective universities, despite orders to take necessary action against them.
“If the universities are not complying with the orders, we can do our part by blocking all research grants, funding for seminars and barring them any other scholarships,” said HEC Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmad.
According to an official privy to the developments, six appeals are under process for consideration.
IIUI’s rector Masoom Yasinzai, when asked about one of the two blacklisted professors, said they have submitted their reply to the HEC.
Contrary to this, HEC officials denied any correspondence in the recent past and said the last communication was almost a year ago. “After investigations we told them to take action against the professor, but they are just dragging their feet,” he added.
Last December, three journals of Elsevier, an academic publisher that puts out medical and scientific literature, retracted 16 research papers submitted by a COMSATS’ professor when it turned out that the author generated fake peer reviews by submitting false contact information for his suggested reviewers.
Isa Daudpota, a physicist and independent researcher based in Islamabad, has been writing to the HEC about such plagiarists. In one letter, he wrote that the HEC should investigate them and aggressively move to get them off the web and compel Pakistani academics associated, as editors or contributors, to sever connections immediately and remove references to such publications from their resumes.
“Benefits, financial and professional, obtained through such publications should be withdrawn. The big fish, in particular, need to be tried in courts of law,” he stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2015.