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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Plagiarism case in IIT Kanpur

Just to refresh the memories of the reader, a journal retracted two review articles published by an IIT Kanpur faculty member (and some students). This came to the notice of IIT Kanpur in September 2010. Nothing was done about this till the media published this news item. Here is the link for news item by Times of India on 9th October. At the same time, faculty of IIT Kanpur also demanded that the charges be investigated and a quick decision be taken. Soon a committee was formed to look into the charges. Here is the link for the news item in Indian Express. The committee was expected to give its report within 10 days. It was promised by IIT Kanpur that the report and the proposed action will be discussed in the next Board of Governor meeting on 2nd November 2010.

Of course, one does not expect IIT Kanpur to release the report of the committee till someone asks for it under RTI. But no final decision has been taken on this issue.

The News report in Indian Express tells us that Director has promised that the final decision will be taken by May 2011.

Why is so much delay. We criticize judiciary all the time for postponing trials. But do we complete trials that we are responsible for. When we are in an administrative positions, how many times do we put that file in one of the drawers and forget about it. How much time does it really take to read two papers, and the papers from where the alleged copying has taken place, and talk to authors and seek explanation, if something unusual is there.

In the meanwhile, the faculty member does not know what to do. With such a charge, he will not be able to write project proposals, get PhD students and carry out research as usual. If the charge is false, he should be cleared at the earliest. If the copying is such that it constitutes a minor offense, then he should be admonished, or given a warning, and allowed to get on with life. But if the copying is such that it constitutes a major offense, then a harsh decision has to be taken, perhaps asking him to find another job.

Why is it that IIT Kanpur is delaying the matter. One can only guess, but my feeling is that it is waiting for the faculty member to resign. No one wants to take any decision in such a case. So they will just let the faculty member remain in the state of stress for a long enough time that either the press and public forgets about it, or the faculty member for his own sanity resigns and moves on.
And once the faculty member resigns, no decision needs to be taken.

The administration is not comfortable taking a decision, since it opens up all the past cases where no decision has been taken for years.

1 comment:

Suhas Nerurkar said...

Good article

any progress likely?

Suhas