LAHORE:08 August: Plagiarism in Pakistan has increased with the improvement in quality of higher education since 2002, when the Higher Education Commission (HEC) was formed.
The HEC, which has been successful in its aim to increase the standard of higher education in Pakistan, still considers plagiarism a big challenge, as a large number of cases of plagiarism by the teaching community, especially the PhD scholars, have come to lime light and been reported in media. Over the last couple of decades, the local media has reported a large number of plagiarism cases by faculty members of various universities.
In reaction, the HEC and universities concerned conducted inquiries against some members, some of whom faced charges of plagiarism and were blacklisted. Despite all these efforts, a large number of accused plagiarists are still working in universities across Pakistan.
It was also noted that some of the accused members, after being reported in media, used their influence to absolve themselves of the charge. Some teachers had even tried to remove their plagiarised articles from journals. Similarly some teachers only published their works in local journals in order to avoid being caught. The HEC has taken several important initiatives to combat plagiarism in the past, by conducting workshops, seminars and distributing booklets to prevent the crime. It also formed the Quality Assurance Division, which in 2007 announced HEC’s Plagiarism Policy to discourage copiers and encourage researchers, students and teachers to produce original work.
The objectives of this policy were to apprise students, teachers, researchers and staff about plagiarism, how it could be avoided and introduce ways to discourage plagiarism by regulating and authorising punitive actions against those found guilty.
The HEC Plagiarism Policy states that plagiarism is “taking and using the thoughts, writings, and inventions of another person as one’s own”. It is the context where one misrepresents ideas, words, computer codes or other creative expression as one’s own and manifests its in a variety of forms, which include verbatim copying, near-verbatim copying and paraphrasing sentences with or without citing the source properly. Ways for detecting plagiarism include the mixed citation styles, lack of references or quotations, unusual formatting, anomalies of diction and anomalies of style.
HEC at the end of 2011 allowed the plagiarism detection service, Turnitin, to access all public and private sector universities for greater efficiency in implementing the plagiarism policy. While talking to Daily Times, HEC Director Dr Sohail Naqvi said that plagiarism existed in our society from early classes and had become acceptable, as students were encouraged to cheat in exams from an early age. He said to end plagiarism “we needed to educate and train children”. Sohail was of the view that the HEC could not combat plagiarism by itself and needed universities, society and the media to join hands with it.
Answering a question regarding undue favouritism for plagiarised faculty members, Sohail said that favouritism was the main cause behind every problem in Pakistan, from education to politics. He said the HEC’s policy was a long-term project, which would take some time to eliminate plagiarism, as it needed trainings, assessments and media reporting.Daily Times.