Indian physicists create website to put spotlight on 'plagiarists'

October 11, 2002

Indian physicists have set up a website to detail allegations of plagiarism against a vice-chancellor of an Indian university and a fellow researcher.

They acted after a published paper under the names of B. S. Rajput, vice-chancellor of Kumaon University, and an associate was found to have been copied from the work of a US-based physicist.

The website cites four papers by Dr Rajput and various researchers, published in international journals over the past three years, that, it is alleged, have been "plagiarised extensively" from works of foreign physicists.

"Their actions pose a grave danger to the reputation of Indian scientists," says a statement by more than 50 Indian scientists from institutions such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Science.

Earlier this year, Dr Rajput and co-author S. C. Joshi offered a paper to Europhysics Letters , an academic journal published by the Switzerland-based European Physical Society. A referee discovered that it closely resembled another published work and it was rejected. Renata Kallosh, a professor of physics at Stanford University, then complained that an earlier paper contributed by the Indian pair to the same journal had been "practically copied" from an article she wrote for the American Physical Society's Physical Review six years earlier.

Wojtek Zakrzewski, head of mathematical sciences at Durham University and a former co-editor of Europhysics Letters , said: "I have never seen any plagiarism that is so blatant."

Dr Rajput denied involvement in plagiarism, saying his name was added to the paper by an associate without his consent or knowledge. "As soon as I got to know about it, I removed Joshi from my group and have forbidden him and others in the group from ever using my name on any paper," he told The THES .

"In the 40 years of my professional life I have contributed some 300 papers to journals in India and abroad, but there has never been any complaint. What can I do if some of my former students go ahead and put my name on their work without my permission?"

He added: "I am nearly 60 and reaching the end of my career. Tell me, what do I stand to gain?"

Mr Joshi, co-author of the alleged plagiarised paper, could not be reached. Dr Rajput said his "whereabouts are not known".


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