Plagiarism epidemic at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad as 5 more Professors are accused

UPDATE!

Prof. Sebastian Morris has commented and his comment is reproduced in full below.

He refers to this follow-up article – http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/article/3/2012032220120322015940691adc5b90a/Accused-IIMA-profs-deny-allegations.html where he is  quoted as saying:

“Plagiarism is an academic matter best judged by academic peers. Plagiarism can be of ideas and expression and not of facts except when they are facts that emerge out of particular research. Publicly available facts, and government policy statements when the source is revealed cannot be construed as plagiarism.”

But I would take issue with this statement on two counts:

  1. it may be comfortable to be “judged” solely by academic peers but that does not work. The Wikiplag site in Germany emphasises the need to get out of the “cozy” establishment environment. So far Wikiplag has found some 20 cases of plagiarised theses which have been missed by the usual “academic peers”
  2. Merely revealing a source is insufficient – it needs to be properly cited even if the source is as mundane as a government policy document.
Even if documents are in the public domain, improper attribution or citation is plagiarism. And if such documents are copyright protected then reproduction could be copyright violation as well.

====================

A case of when the dam breaks perhaps. There seems to be an epidemic of plagiarism at IIM-A.

A reader pointed me to this story in the Ahmedabad Mirror:

A fortnight after Gujarat High Court asked IIMA to conduct a fresh inquiry into the case of a professor accused of plagiarism, a fresh controversy is brewing at the premier  institute. 

This time, an executive with a multinational company who also teaches management at a couple of B schools, has accused five senior IIMA professors of “mass copy-pasting” material from sources without crediting them in their cases.

Professor Anil Sharma has shot off a mail to institute’s director Samir Barua citing “serious instances of plagiarism” by professors Rekha Jain, G Raghuram, Rachna Gangwar, Sebastian Morris and Ajay Pandey. ….

…. The IIMs follow guidelines prepared by Harvard Business School and the American Psychological Association, which say that whenever there is sourcing, verbatim or otherwise, the source has to be cited adequately. Interestingly, the institute has a specialised internet-based software to cross-check research work submitted by students and alerts faculty to plagiarised portions, if any.

Even IIM Indore Director N Ravichandran, a former IIMA professor, has been asked by the Centre to respond to an accusation of plagiarism against him. Prof Ravichandran and a senior faculty member of the institute, Omkar D Palsule-Desai, had submitted a paper on euthanasia that was put up on the IIM website with a “Do not copy or reproduce” warning. Ahmedabad-based researcher K R Narendrababu has complained that the paper was sourced heavily from a Supreme Court judgment without adequate attribution.

A committee of inquiry seems to have been constituted for the earlier case of plagiarism but it is not clear if these cases will also be included.

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3 Responses to “Plagiarism epidemic at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad as 5 more Professors are accused”

  1. Sebastian Morris Says:

    It is nothing short of irresponsibility that you have chosen to include me in this note, based on anonymous emails of claimed plagiarism. My note to the TOI from where you seemed to be re-broadcasting is as below. On a news like this you should have been careful instead of accepting the allegation upfront. Recognize that first inquiries reveal that the so called Anil Sharma who has made these claims is only a name fronting for others who hope to gain through this campaign against me. That some individuals would stoop so low is beyond my imagination. My papers are all on the web, and please do use them to check.

    I hope TOI and your site would apologize for going public without even having the courtesy to check with me, or what is most irresponsible even without having contacted the so called ” Prof. Anil Sharma”.

    Also you have not reported the subsequent (next day) report in the Ahmedabad Mirror that reports (in part) the response I had sent them.

    ‘I find it surprising that despite my response being there with the AHD MIRROR where this was first published the TOI has found it important to smear my name. When ET approached me the response I sent is: “I would think it would be highly improper for you to go ahead and repeat anonymous notes regarding plagiarism or extracts from the same. You would thereby be tarnishing the image and reputation of the individuals concerned, and later retraction would not make sufficient amends. The IIMA had set up a committee (on March 9, on the request of the victimized professors) of academics to examine “to ascertain the veracity of the allegations of plagiarism taking into account the responses from the concerned professors, if deemed necessary”. I have the fullest faith in the institutional processes, its high academic standards and in the committee and await its findings. You must recognize that only academics in the profession can get into the merits of a case of alleged plagiarism. This is especially so since the allegations to all indications are made anonymously and all efforts to contact the alleging individuals by the IIMA, have proven fruitless. That the individual/s behind these names may have impersonated is also likely. Without prejudice to the findings of the IIMA Committee, I deny entirely the allegation of plagiarism made against me.” You could make partial amends by publishing my response as well. Yours truly Sebastian’

    Yours truly.
    Sebastian Morris, Prof. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, 380015 email: morris@iimahd.ernet.in

    • ktwop Says:

      I’m happy to include your comment in full. Note that my post was based on the Mirror’s story not on any anonymous e-mails. The story attracts interest especially as it comes shortly after the previous case at IIM-A. If you have a link to any retraction by the Mirror I am happy to include it – but I cannot find the subsequent article you mention. If you would care to write a post on how you see the problem of plagiarism att IIM -A – if it is a problem – you are very welcome to do so. – ktwop

  2. Professor at IIM-A resigns « The k2p blog Says:

    […] the advantages of transparency and that some are perhaps still hoping that the plagiarism issues cropping up at IIM-A will merely go […]

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