Islamabad - The Acting Rector COMSATS Institute of Technology (CIIT) has been allegedly found involved in a plagiarized research work in which he was a co-author and published the paper in a national research journal in 2007, The Nation learnt through reliable sources.

The Curriculum Vitae (VC) of Rector CIIT Prof Dr Raheel Qamar mentions the research paper ‘Wheat Genomics: Challenges and Alternative Strategies. Proceedings of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. 44:305-327 (2007)’ in sixth place. The publication is owned by Hussain, S. S. and Qamar, R.

According to the documents with The Nation, 65% text of the said research paper has been found similar with a number of other papers after its verification in the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) plagiarism detecting software ‘Turnitin’.

As per HEC policy no research publication for PhD work should have above 19% similar index in overall, and 4% from a single source, an official said.

“However the HEC software mentioned 65% index similarity, with top five individual sources from 5% to 10%,” said the official.

The official also added that the content of the research paper has been taken from multiple sources and papers published between years 2000 to 2003.

“While, ‘Wheat Genomics: Challenges and Alternative Strategies’ was published in 2007,” said the official.

According to the ‘Turnitin’ reports of the paper, available with The Nation, 10% of the content of the paper has been taken from already published work ‘The Structure and Function of the Expressed Portion of the Wheat Genomes’, which was a project that started in 1999 and ended in 2003. The source of the index was ‘wheat.pw.usda.gov’.

Similarly, 5% of the index was found similar with the ‘Computational and Experimental Characterization of Physically Clustered Simple Sequence Repeats in Plants’ published in October 2000 and authored by Linda Cardle, Luke Ramsay, Dan Milbourne, Malcolm Macaulay, David Marshall and Robbie Waugh. The source was www.cmbl.org.pl.

5% index was also found similar to the research work in ‘SILICO ANALYSIS ON FREQUENCY AND DISTRIBUTION OF MICROSATELLITES IN ESTs OF SOME CEREAL SPECIES’ published in May 2002. The content was taken from the source www.k-state.edu.

The report said that 6% of the index was found similar to the thesis ‘Mapping of chromosome arm 7DL of Triticum aestivum L.’ published in 2005 by Prof G.F. Marais for Masters of Science Degree at the University of Stellenbosch.

According to the report 1 percent text has been found similar with around 48 sources, 4 and 3% from a single source and 2% with three sources. All the work was published before 2007 and takes the total percentage of the index similarity to 65% the official said.

According to the HEC policy for plagiarism regarding the co-author, he/she is ‘deemed to be equally responsible for any plagiarism committed in a published paper presented to or published in a journal or presented at a conference’.

The policy, also declaring plagiarism as an intellectual crime has divided the punishment for the scholar found involved in two categories.

In case of copying major research work from any other scholar’s work without giving the reference to the original work, then (a) a major penalty of dismissal from service needs to be prescribed, along with (b) the offender may be “Black Listed” and may not be eligible for employment in any academic / research organization, and (c) the notification of “Black Listing” of the author(s) may be published in the print media or may be publicized on different websites at the discretion of the Vice-Chancellor / Rector / Head of the organization.

In a minor penalty case, if few paragraphs have been copied from an external source without giving reference of that work, then minor penalties need to be prescribed for a specified period involving any one or more of the following: (a) warning, (b) freezing of all research grants, (c) the promotions/annual increments of the offender may be stopped, for a specified period and (d) HEC or the University / Organization may debar the offender from sponsorship of research funding, travel grant, supervision of Ph.D. students, scholarship, fellowship or any other funded program for a period as deemed appropriate by the “Plagiarism Standing Committee”.

Talking to the Nation, President Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Islamabad Chapter Dr Shehzad Ashraf Chaudhry said it is very unfortunate that most of the higher education leadership appointed during the current government is incompetent and they have destroyed the whole higher education setup.

Acting Rector CIIT Dr Raheel Qamar talking to The Nation said that the software ‘Turnitin’ shows the similarity of index while it does not determines plagiarism. He said that plagiarism is decided by the HEC Standing Committee after a complainant approaches the committee with the claim. “So it is the committee’s mandate to declare the plagiarism.  He also added that his paper was published in 2008 and has a similarity of index with the paper published in 2015, which means that the later published paper copied his work. He also said that a number of other research papers have similar issues.