Issues

Never ever copy

Seek Knowledge, but be original. Photo: K.V.Srinivasan   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

Plagiarism is a serious concern and universities in Andhra Pradesh are no exception. It goes unnoticed in several universities as there is no mechanism to check it apart from the lack of seriousness on part of the authorities.

Such is the laxity in the conventional universities that review of research is seldom done to understand the progress leave alone tracking content copying to send a strong signal to the researchers. The problem is severe in Arts and Humanities streams while Science stream is relatively free of this menace.

Root cause seems to be lack of control of the guide on the researcher. “There is no regular monitoring from the supervisor who has to give a report every six months to the concerned Dean. Unfortunately, it is done once in five years in majority cases. Such practice doesn’t instil any fear among researchers,” says P.L. Vishweshwer Rao, former Principal, Osmania University College of Arts and Social Sciences.

The lack of monitoring culture from the PG level compounds the problem. “We need to inculcate that habit at PG where project work should be reviewed seriously, Prof. Rao says. However, in the science stream scope for plagiarism is minimised as researchers have to publish at least two to three articles in journals before the thesis is submitted. “It helps as plagiarism is immediately noticed,” says the OU Vice Chancellor, S. Satyanarayana.

Some universities are using technology effectively to contain plagiarism. The Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) Hyderabad adopted anti-plagiarism software ‘Turn-it-in' in 2009 and it has put a check on blind copying. “The software traces the content source and also the degree of similarity with the original version. Thesis is rejected if similarities are more than 30 per cent,” says T. Kishen Kumar Reddy, former Director R&D of JNTUH, who was instrumental in introducing it.

Such candidates, however, get a second chance to re-write their thesis for the award of degree. Prof. K. Lal Kishore, Vice Chancellor, JNTU Anantapur and former JNTUH Registrar agrees that the software has been very effective. “The culture of presenting original work has to be consciously promoted.”

Support from within the faculty in varsities is lacking on this front. Recently, Osmania University proposed to send all the research thesis to a foreign adjudicator before awarding the degree, but it was met with stiff opposition within. Academics argue that plagiarism not only kills research abilities but also drains the varsities financially as they spend huge amounts on research scholars.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 9:23:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/issues/never-ever-copy/article3802588.ece

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