The doctors were found to have copied a research paper carried out in the African country and passed it off as research conducted in western Nepal
KATHMANDU, Nov 23: Nepali doctors who plagiarized a Nigerian research paper and published it as a report relating to western Nepal have expressed regret for their misdeed and promised not to repeat it. The research paper was retracted from an international journal after the doctors were found to have copied it from the paper titled "Dyslipidemias in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Patients in Nnewi South-East Nigeria" based on research carried out in the African country.
The paper titled "DYSLIPIDEMIA IN TYPE-2 DIABETES MELLITUS PATIENTS IN WESTERN NEPAL" was authored by Doctors MK Shrewastwa and C Thanpari, lecturers at the Department of Biochemistry, Nepalgunj Medical College, Kohalpur; NK Yadav, lecturer at Department of Biochemistry, Manipal College of Medical Sciences, Pokhara; RK Mittal, professor and head of Department of Biochemistry at Nepalgunj Medical College; and V Rohil, assistant professor at Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, University of Delhi, India.
The research paper was published in the Bali Medical Journal in Indonesia in 2013 but was retracted after a complaint was made to the journal. It was earlier published in the Nepal Medical Journal. This paper was reproduced entirely from the paper "Dyslipidemias in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Patients in Nnewi South-East Nigeria", which was published in the Annals of African Medicine Vol 10, No 4; 2011. The Nigerian research paper was authored by N N Jisieike-Onuigbo of the Department of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi, PMB 5025 Nnewi, Nigeria; E I Unuigbe of University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin and C O Oguejiofor, also of Department of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital.
Officials at various bodies concerned described the plagiarism as "a shameful and irresponsible act by the respected doctors".
"It is matter of ethics. We don't have any special policy on discouraging plagiarism," said Prof Dr Anjani Kumar Jha, executive chairperson of Nepal Health Research Council. "We will lobby for a special policy against plagiarism," he added.
Dr Mukesh Kumar (MK) Shrewastwa said that they committed a mistake. "We were not very aware of the issue of plagiarism," said Dr Shrewastwa, "Other members of the team are outside the country. I and my family are under immense psychological stress.
My father suffered a cardiac arrest recently," he lamented. "I promise not to make any such mistake again," he said, urging not to publish any news about it.
The story of plagiarism by doctors in Nepal does not end there, going by documents obtained by Republica. Some doctors are found to be repeatedly involved in plagiarizing from reports that have already been published.
An original research paper titled "A Prevalence of Thyroid Dysfunction in Kathmandu University Hospital, Nepal" and authored by Doctors Madhukar Aryal, Prabin Gyawali, Nirakar Rajbhandari and Pratibha Aryal was published in the Biomedical Research journal in 2010. It was plagiarized under the title "A Prevalence of Thoyroid Disorder in Western Part of Nepal", purportedly authored by Doctors Raj Kumar Yadav of Gangalal Medical College, Pokhara; Namrata Thapa Magar of Gandaki Medical College, Pokhara; Bibek Paudel of Manipal College of Medical Sciences, Pokhara; Naval Kishor Yadav of Manipal College of Medical Sciences; and Binod Kumar Yadav of Institute of Medicine, Kathmandu.
Similarly, a research paper on "Association of Thyroid Dysfunction Among Infertile Women Visiting Infertility Center of Om Hospital, Kathmandu Nepal" authored by Doctors Bhola Rijal, R Shrestha and Bharat Jha was copied under the title "Association of Thyroid Dysfunction Among Infertile Women Visiting Nepalgunj Medical College Hospital, Kohalpur, Nepal" and purportedly authored jointly by Doctors Mukesh Kumar Shrewastawa, C Thanpari, RK Goit, NK Yadav, RK Mittal and V Rohil.
Among the six researchers, Doctors Shrewastawa, Thanpari, Goit and Mittal are associated with Nepalgunj Medical College while Dr Yadav is associated with Manipal College of Medical Sciences, Pokhara and Dr Rohil with Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, Delhi.
After news on doctors plagiarizing the research paper entitled "Association of Thyroid Dysfunction Among Infertile Women Visiting Infertility Center of Om Hospital, Kathmandu Nepal", which was originally carried out by a team of doctors including Bhola Rijal was published in Republica in October, the Bali journal retracted the plagiarized paper and blacklisted the authors.
However, neither Tribhuvan University (TU) nor Kathmandu University (KU), to which the medical colleges where the doctors teach are affiliated, has taken any action against them.
Prof Dr JP Agrawal, dean at the Institute of Medicine under TU, said they would take action if they were found culpable. "We will investigate the matter," he quipped.
Dr Dipak Shrestha, associate dean at KU, said that they have formed a committee headed by the dean of the School of Arts, to look into cases of plagiarism at all departments. "After the news reports were published in Republica last month, we dispatched letters seeking clarifications from the authors and the principals of the medical colleges concerned," he said. "We will set out the standard criteria and take necessary action soon," he added.
Dr Shree Krishna Giri, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said the necessary rules, policies and regulations exist. "The writers [of reports] should firstly act responsibly regarding plagiarism. Then the publishers should scrutinize research papers thoroughly before they are published," he said. "Plagiarism is intellectual theft more serious than copyright infringement," he added.
According to Clause 26 (1) of the Copyright Act 2006, a fine of Rs 10,000 to Rs 100,000 or six months imprisonment or both can be slapped for violating copyright.