University of Dhaka teachers accused of plagiarism in scholarly publication

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is simply the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.

What is self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism means reusing significant, identical, or nearly identical portions of one’s own previous work without acknowledging that or properly citing the original work in the new one.

But can academic writing and ideas really be stolen?

According to law, the answer is YES. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a journal article). Prof. Bert Blocken stated- “Plagiarism is crime, including self-plagiarism.”

University of Dhaka (DU) teachers accused

The University of Chicago Press recently sent a letter to DU authorities accusing for plagiarism against Samia Rahman, Associate Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism Department, and Criminology Department’s Lecturer Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan. Their article, “A New Dimension of Colonialism and Pop Culture: A Case Study of the Cultural Imperialism,” was published in Social Science Review, the journal of the DU Social Science Faculty, in December last year. The University of Chicago Press claimed that the article by Samia Rahman and Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan plagiarised substantial part from the 19-page article by Foucault, which was published in University of Chicago Press’s journal Critical Inquiry’s Volume 8, Number 4, in 1982. Some of the plagiarised texts are portrayed in the images below but there are more. The left hand side of the images shows the original article by Foucault, and the right hand side portrays the plagiarised texts in Rahman and Marjan 2016. DU authorities have already formed a committee to investigate the matter.

Image courtesy: Assoc. Prof. Ragib Hasan

How to prevent plagiarism?

The best way to prevent plagiarism is to teach students about ‘referencing’ or ‘citing’ properly during their graduate studies. Also, reviewers of peer-reviewed journals are expected to identify plagiarised texts in articles. Editors of journals use specialised software such as Turnitin to identify plagiarism. The publication by Rahman and Marjan in the ‘Social Science Review’ journal arise questions about the credibility of the journals as well.

The University of Dhaka is the top academic institution of Bangladesh and was ranked 1st on the Bangladesh University Ranking 2017. The university authority must be more careful on such issues and take necessary actions.

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