Saturday, Jun 14, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The appointment of two inquiry committees into the same allegation was the making of the university itself and it had placed itself in a quandary. The candidate who faced the accusation of plagiarism was M. Venkataramanappa, who was awarded a Ph.D. in Sociology.
Though a three-member team of experts headed by Hira Adyanthaya, Vice-Chancellor of Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune, has absolved the candidate, M. Venkataramanappa, of the charge of plagiarism (using material from a book authored by his guide Chikkamelurappa), the university has before it the earlier report of an inquiry which ruled otherwise. The report was submitted by a professor heading the Sociology unit at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, G.K. Karanth. The Academic Council of the university has to take a decision on the matter.
The allegation of plagiarism against Dr. Chikkamelurappa of the Department of Sociology (guide) and Mr. Venkataramanappa (candidate) was levelled by a member of the Academic Council, L. Vasudevamurthy. The Chancellor, T.N. Chaturvedi, to whose notice the allegation was brought, had taken serious note of it. He referred to the problem of plagiarism in research at a conference of vice-chancellors of universities he convened last month.
The contrary report from Prof. Karanth reached the university on February 14, 2003, it is learnt. He has concluded that there was ample evidence to suggest plagiarism not only in the dissertation referred to him for assessment, but also in the dissertation of the research supervisor, that forms the basis for plagiarism by the student.
The two dissertations (of the guide and the candidate) should make the university take a serious view of its doctoral studies programme, research supervision, and the examination of the dissertations by experts. "This, I think, is urgently needed when one hears too often that it is now possible to have a dissertation written up for a fee by ghost-writers. The sanctity of a doctoral degree cannot be subjected to such market forces," he has said.
What is of interest is his finding that even the dissertation by the research guide had sufficient evidence of having been plagiarised from other sources. About a chapter in the guide's dissertation relied upon by the candidate, Prof. Karanth has commented that he had used material from a district gazetteer (Kolar), at times intact and at others with minor editorial modifications. The student had translated into Kannada one of the chapters from his guide's dissertation, adding a few paragraphs at the beginning which were redundant, and "an attempt to conceal the mechanical translation from the source from which it is copied".
Even the three-member committee of experts has, in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University, M.S. Thimmappa, mentioned its "unpleasant experience" (receipt of a flood of paper cuttings and unidentified telephone calls, perhaps to influence its proceedings). "This dwarfs the reputation of the university and should be discouraged."
Of the two other members of the committee, R. Venkatarathnam, retired professor of Sociology, Madurai Kamaraj University, has not expressed any opinion. He has explained that he could not read the explanation given by Mr. Venkataramanappa because it was in Kannada (his research thesis too was in Kannada). The other expert, S.V. Shirol, Reader in the Department of Social Work, SIBER, Kolhapur, has, however, held the charge of plagiarism against the two to be baseless.
In her final report, Ms. Adyanthaya has absolved the two on the grounds that the candidate had taken the permission of the guide and the latter had allowed him to use the material from his book. "The practice adopted by the candidate does not fall under the charge of plagiarism."
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