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NLSIU revamps copy-pasted NAAC submission after faculty green report ‘busted’ by plagiarism check

Anti-plagiarism report of NLS draft Green Audit Report NAAC submission
Anti-plagiarism report of NLS draft Green Audit Report NAAC submission

NLSIU Bangalore has been embroiled in an internal plagiarism row, when a professor allegedly copied up to 48% of a report that formed part of its National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) submissions, from a number of websites.

It all kicked off last week when associate professor and chair of the undergraduate council Rahul Singh had forwarded to all undergraduate students and faculty an email from the examination committee, which had run the Green Audit Committee’s report to be submitted to NAAC through an automated plagiarism checker.

The automated anti-plagiarism “originality report” gave the report a “similarity index” of 47%, with contents having apparently been lifted from a number of websites such as flowersofindia.net, plantsguru.com and others.

Singh’s subject line in forwarding the email to students and faculty read simply: “Shared without any comments”.

It perhaps bears pointing out that the report was not an academic paper but a fairly unexciting document about the number (and types) of trees and solar panels on NLS’ campus, so it’s possible to argue that the copy-pasting of swathes of text without attribution was not necessarily academic plagiarism or evidence of dishonesty.

Vice chancellor Venkata Rao commented: “Because of the issues found just in time through a software that we use at NLSIU specifically for these purposes, a thoroughly revamped ‘green audit report’ has been submitted to NAAC.”

Singh declined to comment when contacted, while the professor allegedly responsible for the report did not respond to an email seeking comment last week.

NLSIU’s Student Bar Association (SBA) commented in a statement: “It was a report related to internal assessment of our routine University audits. In the recent past, under the current Under Graduate Council, numerous steps have been taken in the right direction to further the academic rigour of the institution.”

The SBA added: “In this light, we are seeking a NAAC accreditation to ensure that the University’s efforts and standing is amply recognized. We as a University are very serious about the accreditation and all our reports are being internally assessed to put forth a true depiction of various facets of campus life, which entails getting every detail and report vetted internally. It is just a part of the process to ensure NLS’s standing is accurately represented and accredited.”

NAAC histories

NAAC accreditation, administered by the University Grants Commission (UGC), was a requirement for colleges to apply to become an Institution of Eminence (IOE) under the government’s scheme, with NLSIU and NUJS Kolkata currently not having NAAC, as we had reported.

Nalsar Hyderabad, NLU Delhi and Jindal Global University, however, had won full autonomy status under NAAC, and RGNUL Patiala and NLU Cuttack had also received NAAC accreditation.

But this is not the first time that plagiarism has crept into NAAC submissions: in 2016, two pages from NLU Cuttack’s NAAC “quality-status” submission had been copied verbatim from NLU Delhi, as as we had reported at the time.

Over in Bangalore, meanwhile, the unofficial NLS student magazine Quirk had riffed off the episode in a blog-post entitled “Shared without comments”, which has since been removed from its website. The piece had started with:

“NAAC Results for NLSIU withheld in light of pending plagiarism claims; all audit reports are henceforth required to be hand-written on chart paper. The Nagarbhavi Laa Kaallege has been wrecked by accusations of plagiarism and academic dishonesty, in light of a recently declassified “Green Audit Report”, which was found to have hit an alarming 47% plagiarism mark on Turnitin. As to why the report was put through Turnitin at all, our best guess is that the whistleblower wanted to #doitforthekicks (Spiritus is coming!)”

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