South Eastern University of Sri Lanka

Inside Story:  Rogue Academics in Sri Lanka – Part 2

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In his response to our first part of this series, Prof. A. Rameez, Vice Chancellor, Professor in Sociology, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Oluvil, has said the following in an email. “As I was engaged in an official duty over the last two days, I couldn’t write to you. I know that you have published an article referring to my academic integrity in your website yesterday. You could have sought my clarification on the contents of the article before being published in your website. I just wonder who this investigative journalist is. However, many people are in the pursuit of tarnishing the image of University in the public domain due to various reasons. Hence, he may also have some ulterior motives behind his move. Having said that, I am now consulting people to legally approach this matter.”

Editor’s Note: As far as ethical journalism is concerned, it is our responsibility to publish his response in full without any redactions, stressing that the Vice-Chancellor must have known that questioning the author’s details was indecent. However, we as the editorial board wish to emphasize again that Sri Lanka Guardian always welcome responses from the named parties in this part of the series as well.

Rogue Academics’ Behavioral Intension to Recycle Research Fraudulence: A Study of a duplicate publication of plagiarism by Professor A. Rameez, the Vice Chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka

Less important quote for the sake of looking fancy: “Here he used his talents for deviousness and vitriol in a more socially acceptable way, successfully conducting a major campaign against counterfeiting, even sending several men to their death on the gallows” – Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time.

In part one of this series, the readers were presented with some solid evidence for some serious research fraudulences committed by the current Vice Chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (SEUSL). Now that we have the audience sufficiently oriented, we will proceed on to gradually expose more and more of the research fraudulences and academic malpractices that are plaguing this institution of higher education, thanks to the likes of intellectual conmen like A. Rameez.

The recent article covered the plagiarism contained in the two publications below by A. Rameez:

  1. Rameez, A., M. Riswan, and N. Lumna. “Ageing and health seeking behaviour: a medical sociological approach to Nintavur divisional secretariat, Sri Lanka.” (2015).
  2. Rameez, A. “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis.” (2016).

In this article we focus on some further findings on research fraudulence by A. Rameez, who is serving as a professor in sociology since 2019 and the vice chancellor of SEUSL since 2021.

Evidence in Summary:

  • A. Rameez published in 2016 part of his M.Phil. research conducted until 2010. This 9-page long publication text contained stolen text for three pages.
  • A. Rameez re-published the same 2016 article, a 100% copy, in a different journal with the same stolen content.

A. Rameez, being the sole author, has published in 2019 an article in Volume 7 Issue No. 1 of the print-only journal “Journal ofClassical Thamizh: A Quarterly International Multilateral Thamizh Journal (Arts & Humanities)” (Tamil name: செம்மொழித் தமிழ்: பன்னாட்டுப் பன்முகத் தமிழ் காலாண்டு ஆய்விதழ் (கலை & மனிதவியல்)) (ISSN: 2321-0737). The title of the article, not-so-surprisingly for us at this stage of our understanding on the workings of academically degenerate small-brains, is “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis”. Interestingly, this 12 pages long article by A. Rameez is the only English-language article in this entire Classical Thamizh journal issue with 278 pages. On a different note, the publisher’s note for authors on their website (link https://rajapublications.wixsite.com/journals/author-centre) requires authors to submit content for 7 pages minimum for each article, yet there exist articles that are only 3 pages long – a possible indication on the compromising nature of the journal itself. This article, or the version-with-zero-changes to be precise, has been published in 2019, about three years after the item 2 covered in our previous article was published. It is worthwhile noting that the content of this article can be considered as a publication of a part of his research conducted for his M.Phil. degree – a degree he was granted after his claims for years-long research study following his defense of a dissertation written based on his research work. It is also interesting to note that A. Rameez published the item 2 covered in our previous article after about 5 years. The relevant timeline is summarized below:

  • 2010: A. Rameez graduates with M.Phil. after defending his dissertation
  • 2016: A. Rameez publishes an article titled “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis” in KALAM -International Research Journal
  • 2019: A. Rameez publishes an article titled “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis” in Journal of Classical Thamizh: A Quarterly International Multilateral Thamizh Journal (Arts & Humanities)

We find that the KALAM version of the article on social capital is hosted by the electronic repository of SEUSL libraries – link here (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/5251*). However, the Classical Tamil version of the same article is not included in the SEUSL e-repository, nor is it to be found in the Google Scholar and ResearchGate profiles of A. Rameez. However, we get to notice it in the Curriculum Vitae posted at the Faculty of Arts and Culture webpage of SEUSL – link here (https://www.seu.ac.lk/fac/staff/academic/fac/rameez/cv.pdf). This publication is listed as “Rameez, A. (2019). Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 319-330, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.” in the CV of A. Rameez.

In conclusion we now have evidence for what’s called ‘self-plagiarism’ in the language employed by UGC to describe various forms of plagiarism; or simply duplicate publication. Of interest is the fact that A. Rameez chose to duplicate-publish an article with three pages of raw plagiarized material! Even more interesting is that he had to publicize his plagiarism when publishing part of his research carried out for his postgraduate degree at two different points in time, once when it was 5 years past his M.Phil. graduation and once again when it was 9 years after his M.Phil. graduation – an evidence for sustained academic bankruptcy and persistent dishonesty of this rogue academic. For those either with a lack of capability to discern such simple mischief or with other forms of inexpressible guilt for similar academic offenses, we feel that there is an explicit need to restate here that the 2019 version of A. Rameez’s publication on Social Capital is a 100% copy of his 2016 version and that both of them contain three-pages-long plagiarized material from one single source (Hazleton & Kennan, 2000) in addition to other plagiarized content.

Is it that A. Rameez had already forgotten that he got his manuscript on social capital already published in the journal KALAM when he thought of publishing his thesis-inspired paper in Classical Thamizh in year 2019? Or was it something else? Perhaps a rush for publications before submitting his application/ self-evaluation-report for professorship in 2019? Or is it that A. Rameez considers that a publication in the Tamilnadu-based print-only journal would be looked at favorably than the version that appeared in the journal run by their own faculty? Rumor has it that A. Rameez got about 07 research articles published in the year 2019 alone by the publishing company of the journal Classical Thamizh, Raja Publications – we can get this count verified if and when SEUSL, a public authority currently headed by A. Rameez with A. Rameez himself functioning as the Designated Officer for Information, gets an opportunity in future to release the information on the list of publications attached along with his application for professorship. One wonders how much it costs to get published in the journal Classical Thamizh, how long it takes to get an article published there, what are the scrutinizing practices – including check for plagiarism – employed by the editors and finally how much of possibly reimbursed public funds had been effectively flushed out of the country as foreign currency in 2019 by A. Rameez!

Acts of self-plagiarizing duplicate publication of articles composed of content stolen from other published scholars can only be done by a Research Fraud who doesn’t have any sort of inhibition for intellectual theft and any sense of fear for losing honor. This leading SEUSL academician in sociology and a self-appointed apostle of research and publication must have well been aware that the Classical Thamizh version of his publication was only going to be available as a printed material and not on the internet (publisher’s website here: http://www.rajapublications.com/) whilst the KALAM version of his publication was to remain in the e-repository of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/5251), thereby ruling out the possibility for any detection of his act of plagiarism using contemporary software solutions.

The figures below show the 2019 version of the print-only publication by A. Rameez, the content of which once belonged to the copyrighted journal KALAM.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL TEXT OF THIS PART OF THE SERIES

Inside Story: Rogue Academics in Sri Lanka

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This investigative report is open for response as the accused have been named by the reporter-editors

As funny, stupid and pseudo-intellectual as it may sound, the above title of this article is not what I initially intended to give it. The originally intended title is along the lines of “A Case of Serial Plagiarism…” or something like When the Vice Chancellor is a Plagiarist – more on this in the later parts. Now welcome to some enlightenment.

Presented below is a summary of findings we had the misfortune to make after having a compelling urge to study the academic profile of this intellectual from South Eastern Sri Lanka: Professor Aboobacker Rameez. A. Rameez is currently the Vice Chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka since 2021 and a professor in sociology at this higher education institution since 2019. Some readers would also be familiar with the name from many op-ed articles he has authored for Colombo Telegraph, references to which can also be found at his Google Scholar profile page and Research Gate profile – maintained for a delicate balance between keeping it clean and being still stocked with stuff, reportedly due to Webometrics ranking requirements. Some of his newspaper-published scholarly works being listed in these research database profile pages were published by the online Tamil news website jaffnamuslim.com.      

While lacking the necessary tools and this being a pastime activity triggered initially by personal pursuits, and despite the attempts of the university administration headed by A. Rameez himself to repeatedly deny information on his publications he used for his promotion as a professor by merit in response to right-to-information requests, we were still able to find to our own shock and surprise the fact that serious acts of plagiarism and academic-mafia-like practices had been freely allowed in the most carefree ways.

Evidence in summary:

  • A. Rameez stole nearly 80% of the abstract of a published journal article covering actual research conducted in Nigeria and he published it as an abstract of his own work carried out in Sri Lanka
  • A. Rameez stole written content from another published, properly peer-reviewed Scopus-indexed journal article and composed about 3-pages long content, without a single modification, for his own article submitted to the journal run by his own faculty

A formal complaint regarding this matter has been made to the Council of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka via the Registrar of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. All the council members of SEUSL have been presented with evidences of these offenses, which are termed Research Fraud in the language employed by UGC for describing offenses of this nature.

An extended summary of our findings is presented below for the amusement of the general public who are contributing financially and in various other ways directly or indirectly for the proliferation of activities of the sort that is being reported here.

  1. A. Rameez plagiarized nearly 80% of the abstract of O. Odaman et al. (2014)

A. Rameez, being the primary and corresponding author has published an abstract in the South Eastern University Arts Research Session 2015. The title of the Abstract is “Ageing and Health Seeking Behaviour: A Medical Sociological Approach to Nintavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka”. The following table shows a side-by side comparison of passages extracted from the abstract submitted by A. Rameez for publication against the abstract of a research article that had already been published.

Rameez et al. (2015)Odaman et al. (2014)
It focused on the most common health related problems of elderly: revealed where the elderly goes to seek medical care when sick, and those financially responsible for his/her medical needs.It focused on the most common health related problems of the elderly; revealed where the elderly goes to seek medical care when sick; and those financially responsible for his/her medical needs.
The findings show that, the majority of the elderly persons had age associated physical illnesses such as blood pressure, cardiac problems, diabetes, joint pains, kidney infections, cancer and tuberculosis that take a long time to heal.Majority of the elderly persons (62.7%) had age associated illnesses such as blood pressure, cardiac problems, diabetes, joint pains, kidney infections, cancer and tuberculosis that take a long time to heal.
More elderly males than female counterparts were found to have patronized traditional healers, resorted to self medication using local herbs or visit chemists’ shops whenever they were sick.More elderly males than their female counterparts were found to have patronized traditional healers, resorted to self medication using local herbs or visited chemists’ shops whenever they were sick.
This research suggested that, the government should puts in place programmes that would ensure good health behaviour and elderly people should be provided free, accessible and comprehensive health care in hospitals and other health care centres.It is recommended that elderly people should be provided free, accessible and comprehensive health care in hospitals and health centers because they would utilize the health services when available, accessible and affordable.

Notice that the work allowed to be published by the editorial committee of the Book of Abstracts of South Eastern University Arts Research Session (2015) makes the suggestion, as an outcome of the supposed research findings, that the elderly people should be provided free healthcare in Sri Lanka! We believe that it’s needless to say that unlike in the case of Nigeria, the Governments of Sri Lanka have been providing free healthcare for all of its citizens in all of Sri Lanka not only at the time this abstract was being presented and was being issued in print, possibly out of public funds, but since long before that until now and far into the future for sure.

If word counts are to be used as a crude estimate to indicate the severity of the rogue academic conduct with such a shallow level of sophistication in carefree plagiarism, we observe that of the 185 words that have been originally used for composing the abstract of Odaman et al., the abstract of Rameez et al. employs more than 80 percent of the words (149 out of 185) to compose itself.

The abstract published by Rameez et al. can be found in the Book of Abstracts published by SEUSL on 22nd December 2015.

This abstract can also be found at http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/1532

The figure below portrays A. Rameez in the act, with hijacked text highlighted in yellow:

The work published by Odaman et al. can be found here. The article has been published in Vol. 7, No. 1 (2014), pp. 201-210 of International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities (ISSN 2248-9010 (Online), ISSN 2250-0715 (Print)).

The figure below shows how A. Rameez et al. did a stealth-mode robbery of the intellectual effort of Odaman et al., with the stolen text highlighted in yellow:

Anyone serious enough to access and look at the actual content of Odaman et al. would appreciate the true effort the original authors have put into their work despite what the title and abstract look like. And those familiar with social sciences will admit that often text itself is the very embodiment of ideas.

  1. A. Rameez published a journal article with 3 pages long content stolen straight from a journal article by Hazleton & Kennan (2000)

A. Rameez, being the sole author has published an article in KALAM -International Research Journal, Faculty of Arts and Culture, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Volume X Issue 1, 2016. The title of the Article is “Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis”.

A. Rameez’s Publication is available at http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/5251  (available at SEUSL e-repository).

The figure below of the article by A. Rameez, with the stolen content highlighted in yellow, should indicate the proportionality of the content discovered to have been stolen word-for-word from just one single source (other stolen content not indicated):

A. Rameez has plagiarized for his publication from here (Scopus entry: Here )

A. Rameez’s publication (Page numbers 05 to 08 highlighted in Yellow) has copied the above mentioned publication by Vincent Hazleton and William Kennan (Social capital: reconceptualizing the bottom line; Corporate Communications: An International Journal Volume 5 . Number 2 . 2000. pp. 81-86) word for word from page numbers 82-84.

The figure below shows the proportionality of the content stolen word-for-word from the work of Hazleton & Kennan, with the portions in yellow being the stolen content.

Of about nine pages of writing contributed by A. Rameez for this journal issue, about three pages come straight from the composition of Hazleton and Kennan verbatim, even with citations as they appear in the work of the original authors, but without being listed in the list of references of the publication by A. Rameez! For example, we see the original article of Hazleton from year 2000 referring to articles by themselves from 1993, 1998 and 1999; but the article by A. Rameez only has the one by Hazleton from 2000 in his list of references, meaning that the readers (and obviously the reviewers of this SEUSL journal) would have no idea what those articles of Hazleton from 1993, 1998 and 1999 actually were/ are. Other examples include such questions of curious readership of Rameez on where they can actually locate the original works referred to as Monge (1987), Garfinkel (1967) etc., all of which, interestingly are properly listed at the end of the original, genuine work of Hazleton and Kennan (2000). Apart from this 3 pages long direct stealing of written scholarly work by Hazleton and Kennan that I have brought to light here, there are various other curiosity-provoking pointers to other possibly interesting findings that are possible from a thorough investigation on the rest of the 6 pages of this publication by A. Rameez; one such pointer for example is the curious question of what exactly Portes published along with Landolt in year 1996.

These two items above bring to light the evident lack of academic honesty & integrity on the part of Prof. A. Rameez and the evident lack of scrutiny and review practices of any level of rigor concerning the two publications above. It is interesting to note that we don’t see A. Rameez having published any work on healthcare seeking behaviour of the elderly other than the single abstract above plagiarizing the work of Odaman et al. It is also interesting to note that A. Rameez obtained his M.Phil. degree in 2010 by writing a dissertation titled “The Role of Social Capital in Disaster Management: A Study of a Tsunami Affected Coastal Village in Eastern Sri Lanka”, a work possibly very similar in theme to his publication in item 2 above (Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis); yet we find him after five years with the necessity to plagiarize to produce 3-pages long content for a journal article on a related topic.

Under these circumstances, it is evident that the intellectual con artist who produced the two fraudulent publications above is guilty of one of the gravest academic offenses: Plagiarism. Being non-hesitant, uninhibited and not-insightful about copying the published, reviewed works of other academics and scholars is a major evidence of academic bankruptcy of the person in concern. With such a history of Research Fraudulence, Professor A. Rameez being a Vice Chancellor of a Higher Education Institution, and thereby being the head/ chairperson/ overseeing authority/ supervising authority on almost all of its academic, academic-administrative and academic-disciplinary matters, can severely affect the academic and administrative integrity of the institution in question. This can lead to demolition of high standard academic culture, accountability and transparency in research and dissemination and the quality of the academic programs offered at the University.

Questions for the readers are below:

  1. What are the roles played by editors and reviewers (if any) of books of abstracts and journals published by the Faculty of Arts and Culture of SEUSL?
  2. What are the impacts on the undergraduate education and examination processes in this Sri Lankan state university
  3. When the Vice Chancellor is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  4. When a professor in a certain discipline is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  5. When an academic in general belonging a certain discipline is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  6. What are the impacts on the postgraduate education, postgraduate research programmes and examination processes in this Sri Lankan state university
  7. When the Vice Chancellor is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  8. When a professor in a certain discipline is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  9. When an academic in general belonging a certain discipline is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  10. What are the impacts on the academic administration processes including recruitment of BEST OF THE BEST academic staff and appointment of directors & heads of various divisions & departments at this Sri Lankan state university
  11. When the Vice Chancellor is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  12. When a professor in a certain discipline is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  13. What are the impacts on the disciplinary processes in academic matters at this Sri Lankan state university
  14. When the Vice Chancellor is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?
  15. When a professor in a certain discipline is a demonstrated plagiarist and a research fraud?