‘Cut-and-paste’ stink in new DU course syllabus
A Delhi University proposal to introduce a "B.Tech Innovation"
course that combines mathematics and IT has sparked allegations that its syllabus
document has plagiarised text from foreign universities’ websites.
The Common Teachers Forum, an association of DU teachers, has claimed that at least
23 small and large chunks of text seem to have been created by cutting and pasting
text, near verbatim, from these websites.
They say that even this was done so carelessly that the syllabus document has an
inexplicable inconsistency. On page 13, it says that students who get an "F" grade
would need to repeat theory and practical courses but on page 17, it says those
who get an "F" will be recommended for an M.Sc Informatics degree.
"So we’re not just looking at a cut-and-paste job, it’s also a mindless cut-and-paste
job," said Abha Dev Habib, physics teacher at DU-affiliated Miranda House and a
member of the DU Teachers Association (DUTA) executive council.
Senior DU teachers and forum members say it is ironic that the university plans
to offer the course at a new centre for higher education that is to be named the
"Cluster Innovation Centre".
"There appears to be a bankruptcy in ideas to even articulate a description of the
course without resorting to blatant plagiarism," said forum member Sachin Narayanan.
He and three coordinators of the forum have posted a blog titled "Is there an innovation
in plagiarism: DU’s hour of shame".
"This will hurt the university’s credibility," Sachin told The Telegraph. The document
on the CIC and the B.Tech Innovation course has no named authors but it was discussed
at DU’s academic council meeting yesterday, he said.
The forum has cited examples of text reproduced from the websites of the universities
of Edinburgh and Manchester, the Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, among others.
Forum and DUTA members believe the document was prepared under the direction of
vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh, a mathematics professor. Some DUTA members have also
objected to what they say is the hurry with which the proposal was pushed through
at Saturday’s meeting.
Singh was not available for comment. Bal Kishan Dass, professor and head of DU’s
mathematics department, said the proposal for the innovation centre and the B.Tech
course had been "widely appreciated" and accepted at the academic council meeting.
"The plan involves something new and innovative," Dass said, adding that the meeting
had discussed the charge that the syllabus contained verbatim text from other sources
without attribution. "If this is true, it will be removed. The draft is being looked
into and the final draft will be put up after a few days."
Many mathematicians approve of the concept of this proposed course, which will be
open to students who have completed Class XII.
"I think students who complete it will have a wide range of useful and marketable
skills," said Gautam Menon, a scientist at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences,
Chennai, who was not associated with the proposal. "But I’m saddened that the syllabus
material and motivation seems to be largely constructed as a cut-and-paste job."
Menon and others, though, argue that since the document was intended for
internal consideration and was not a public document, the plagiarism reflected "bad
judgement and thoughtlessness, nothing more".
Courtesy: Telegraph India