Plagiarism has become a major problem in the path of research and publications, and is widespread and going unabated. We often receive articles for publication that are either partly or fully copied from others' works, despite the fact the author’s declaration that the article is original and is an exclusive contribution to our journal, and has also submitted a certificate of cessation of copyright in our favour. The dare-devilry is shocking! This is outright deceit and cheating. Amusingly, the practice is not confined to Indian authors; foreign authors are no exception.
We face another problem of a somewhat similar nature, involving professional ethics. We spend a lot of effort, time, and money in reviewing, short-listing, and editing the article which passes the preliminary scrutiny. When asked to make further revisions or supply the missing information, some of the authors stop responding to us and submit the paper, which has been improved through our efforts, to some other journal. They do so despite their having given a declaration that the paper is an exclusive contribution to our journal, and shall not be withdrawn at a subsequent stage unless rejected/permitted by the Editor, and having ceded the copyright in our favour.
It needs no emphasis that plagiarism is not only an unethical practice; particularly so for an academician, it is also a violation of the code of conduct governing the services of university teachers and research scholars. Moreover, it amounts to a criminal offence under the Copyright Act, 1957 (which certainly does not grant us a 'right to copy!'). Any infringement of the copyright under the Act is an offence, punishable with imprisonment for a minimum period of six months, extendable up to three years, and a fine, ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakhs.
It is worthwhile to caution such unscrupulous people. Many people have already faced disciplinary action, eventually leading to their dismissal from service. These include university teachers at all levels– lecturers, associate professors, professors (including one in a top Central university, one in a top IIM, and one in a State university of Uttar Pradesh), and one Vice-Chancellor of a State university. In one case, the Vice-Chancellor of a reputed Central University had to face imprisonment.
Writing a research paper is a demanding as well as rewarding task. A person looking for an unearned reward is surely inviting trouble for himself and a bad name for the entire academic community.
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