The Wire had reported on April 5 that the University of Hyderabad’s incumbent vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile had coauthored three papers containing multiple plagiarised sentences. Following that report, The Wire had also contacted the editor-in-chief of one of the journals in which one of the papers had been published asking for commensurate action against Appa Rao.
On April 12, we received an email from the editor, Subhash C. Lakhotia, of the Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, informing us that a note of apology from the papers authors will be published in next month’s edition of the journal. He wrote, “We thank you for alerting us to a possible case of plagiarism” and added that “we have examined the case and … contacted the authors of the paper in question.”
The paper is titled ‘Root Colonization and Quorum Sensing are the Driving Forces of Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) for Growth Promotion’ and was published in June 2014. In it, Appa Rao and his coauthors had copied six sentences from multiple sources without due acknowledgement or credit. When presented with proof that he had plagiarised, Appa Rao told The Wire, “If we have missed citing references of the original source for a part of the text, we will apologise for the mistakes.” Appa Rao and Lakhotia had both admitted to not using any tools to check for plagiarism before submitting and publishing the paper, respectively.
According to Lakhotia, the contents of the note of apology will be as follows:
It has been brought to our notice that a few isolated sentences in our above paper are identical with or largely similar to those in different papers published earlier by other authors. We deeply regret this situation. This was not a deliberate attempt to plagiarise but was indeed an inadvertent error. We sincerely apologise to the Indian National Science Academy, the journal and the authors of earlier published papers for this lapse on our part.
No comments or actions from those involved in publishing the other two papers have yet been forthcoming. The full list of the instances of plagiarism are available at the bottom of this article.