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Top Story

October 22, 2018
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ED HEC resigns over plagiarism allegations

Top Story

October 22, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: In a first high-profile causality over plagiarism, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali has resigned after a committee found him guilty of stealing 80% content of his research paper.

A source close to the Executive Director confirmed to The News that Dr Arshad Ali has resigned after he was pressurised by the HEC’s 18-member commission which met on Saturday after a 32-months gap.

This newspaper first reported that HEC’s own software Turnitin has confirmed 88% plagiarism in Dr Ali’s research paper “A Taxonomy and Survey of Grid Resource Planning and Reservation Systems for Grid Enabled Analysis Environment,” published in July 2004. The paper was found to be almost the exact copy of a paper authored by Chaitanya Kandagatla University of Texas, Austin America in February 2004. Dr Ali was also principal accounting officer of and second most important administrator of the HEC.

HEC spokesperson Dr Ayesha Ikram, meanwhile, confirmed that Dr Arshad Ali has resigned on the basis of his own decision in order to prevent further adverse impact upon the organisation because of the ongoing controversy over the allegations against him. She also confirmed that issue of his alleged plagiarism was discussed at length during the meeting of the commission which was presided over by the Chairman HEC Dr Tariq Banuri.

In a press conference on Saturday the Chairman Banuri had hinted that the commission will be able to decide on Sunday on high profile plagiarism cases including that of its own executive director.

However, sources close to Dr Ali confirmed the resignation saying that the top official was shocked at the speed of action against him by the commission. Dr Arshad denied plagiarism and said the commission has acted in haste as the issue should have been probed thoroughly. The sources said that Dr Ali has resigned as a protest.

The commission is also probing plagiarism case against its own former chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed but it was decided that the matter will further be probed before any decision is taken, source told The News.

As per existing HEC policy on plagirism, if most of the paper have been exactly copied from any published work of other people without giving the reference to the original work, a major penalty of dismissal from service could be imposed.

In December last year Dr Ali was alleged for sealing 88 percent research work of his co-authored research paper from another publication. Dr Arshad Ali is main author of the paper along with several others including foreigners.

The HEC policy further states, "If a co-author has listed a paper in his/her resume and applied for a benefit forthwith, any co-author 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." Interestingly, the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of Dr Arshad Ali proudly mentions the controversial research paper.

The policy also mentions that such a plagiarist may be blacklisted and may not be eligible for employment in any academic, research organisation, and (c) the notification of “Black Listing” of the author(s) may be published in the print media or may be publicised on different websites at the discretion of the Vice-Chancellor/Rector/Head of the organisation.”

Fighting plagiarism is one of the major functions of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). In an expression of its resolve against academic-theft, the commission has placed about 21 black-listed faculty members and researchers on its website along with its detailed anti-plagiarism policy.

According to HEC Act and rules, the Executive Director is the second most important officer of the commission being the principal accounting officer of the body that manages about Rs90 billion annually. He acts as head of HEC Secretariat and also as the Secretary of the Commission’s governing body which makes policies on improving quality of education and fighting plagiarism.

Despite repeated calls and text messages Dr Arshad did not respond to The News on the issue. However in his earlier talk with The News on the issue he had claimed that his co-authors were reputed professionals from institutions like CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Dr Arshad Ali was appointed as HEC Executive Director In January 2016 by the selection board and governing body headed by current HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed. He had previously served as Rector, National Textile University and founding Principal of the NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS).

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