American Researcher Accuses Central University of Gujarat Scholars Of ‘Stealing’ Her Ideas, ‘Plagiarising’ Her Paper

| Updated: June 18, 2022 10:09 am

Even as an atmosphere of celebration pervades all over the Central University of Gujarat in Gandhinagar given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to pave the way for their much-awaited permanent campus in Vadodara district on Saturday, there is a dark side that haunts the university — a serious charge of plagiarism.

“Transcending dark tourism and embracing spirituality in the city of light ‘Varanasi'” written by a PhD scholar, Anshuman Rana, and a faculty member, Dr Naresh Kumar, of the CUG is almost a straight lift from the paper of a US-based tourism researcher Dr Nitisha Sharma.   

This piece by Rana and Kumar was published in August 2021 in a journal called Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry. 

Speaking to Vibes of India, Sharma said, “In 2016, I published an article in a reputed French journal called Teoros on tourism in Varanasi. Surprisingly, a few months ago, I discovered an article published in 2021 that plagiarised my concept of dark tourism in Varanasi.”

“This might be a long battle but it reflects the poor state of academic ethics and lack of plagiarism training in institutions in Gujarat and the dishonesty with which higher authorities in some central universities tend to cover it up. Plagiarism is a serious matter and if this would have happened in the US, the repercussions would have been quite serious,” she adds. 

Dr Nitasha Sharma works as a tourism researcher in Alabama, USA. She also completed her PhD in the US and worked for a few years in the Netherlands as a Lecturer in the Geography department.

She explains that this article plagiarized by these two scholars displays, “Direct plagiarism, paraphrasing plagiarism and patchwork plagiarism. The ideas have been stolen from my article in Teoros and have been presented as a medley of all my articles and my PhD dissertation. I can effectively argue my case with examples of directly lifted sentences and phrases in it.”

“Out of curiosity, when I read the document, I was shocked to discover that these two researchers from the Central University of Gujarat had not only stolen my core ideas but also cleverly manipulated the sentences and words in their paper to avoid being detected by academic plagiarism software like Turnitin,” Sharma went on.  

After this, she wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof Rama Shanker Dubey, marking a copy to the Deans of all the departments as well as the department concerned. “There was no response from any of them except three emails from the Chair of the department saying that they were investigating the matter,” she said.

Sharma added, “I repeatedly requested them to provide details of the investigation by the ethics committee, but there was silence from their end indicating that they were planning to brush this matter under the carpet to avoid any investigation by the UGC and protect their own as one of the co-authors in the plagiarizing article is a professor and the other was their star PhD student (who recently graduated).”

It seems like the University has no intention of taking any action against the academics.

When Vibes of India contacted Professor and Chairperson in Centre for Diaspora Studies, CSRD (Independent Centre), Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, Dr Atanu Mohapatra, he said  “We are occupied with the forthcoming cultural events in the University.”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the permanent campus of the Central University of Gujarat to come up on a 100-acre land near Vadodara during his June 18 event in the city. As of now, we do not have time to revert to the USA-based researcher. We will investigate the matter only after June 20.”

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