Indians feel vindicated, but British professor denies plagiarism

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Two Indian researchers who have been relentlessly pursuing a plagiarism charge against a British professor for over three years say they are at last vindicated, but the latter insists there was no violation. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) – the world's largest technical professional association – has now publicly admitted that a paper by Demetres Kouvatsos, a professor of information systems at the University of Bradford, and his student Salam Assi that appeared in an IEEE publication in 2007 was indeed copied from an unpublished work of scientists from New Delhi. But Moshe Kam, president of the IEEE, told the sources that his organization has now posted on its website a “notice of violation” by the British authors, saying their paper “contains significant portions of original text from the unpublished work” of the (Indian) authors “copied without attribution and without permission”. “Even though belated, the IEEE's decision is welcome to the extent that it puts on record that the original work was done by us,” Karmeshu Gupta, a professor of computer science at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi and one of the authors of the original paper, told the sources. “It has, of course, brought the plagiarized work of Kouvatsos and Assi to the notice of the academic community, but this is no real relief to us because our struggle for the last three years with the IEEE has been to get their paper retracted to pave way for the publication of our original work, which still remains unpublished,” he said. The IEEE president did not explain why the offending paper was not withdrawn but only said in an e-mail that any person trying to access Kouvatsos' paper (or its abstract) in the IEEE database gets to see the notice of violation and is directed to the original paper by Indian researchers. In their complaint to the IEEE in September 2007, the Indian researchers alleged that Kouvatsos had plagiarized from their manuscript which he had occasion to review as a referee. “Our case raises a fundamental issue that publishing original work in science requires complete trust between authors and reviewers,” Gupta said. “If the reviewer runs away with the original idea of the authors, this may be fatal for the progress of science.” But Kouvatsos said on e-mail, “The alleged plagiarism was based on superficial and coincidental similarities and not 'significant' as it is currently stated in the IEEE note of violation.” He said he was confident that “with the strong support of the University of Bradford and independent expert colleagues in the field world wide”, the IEEE would remove the notice of violation “in the very near future”.

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