author: ethan williams | contributor
Engineering professor under scrutiny following charge
A University of Regina professor is in hot water following a report that concluded he plagiarized the work of one of his Master’s students.
Dr. Shahid Azam, a professor in the Engineering Faculty and Program Chair of Environmental Systems Engineering at the university, took different sections of an article that he published for a science journal in 2014 from Master’s student Arjun Paul, according to a report from CBC News. Paul reportedly complained to both the university and the journal after he saw the article, and after a lengthy investigation, it was determined that Azam did, indeed, plagiarize his student’s work.
Paul was unavailable for comment when reached via social media this week, but told CBC News that he is happy that the report found his professor guilty.
“It feels really good. Claiming a false claim and taking my work – that makes me stressed.”
When asked for comment on the situation, the Carillon was informed by Dr. Azam that he had “no further comment on the matter.”
However, the CBC reports that Azam defended why he gave Paul no credit. He told the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan [APEGS] that Paul’s work was not sufficient enough to warrant co-authorship, or other acknowledgement. In 2014, he informed the CBC News iTeam that he himself wrote sections of the paper because Paul did not have the “technical writing skills necessary.”
Paul told CBC News at the time that this claim was “Absolutely not true…because I graduated from a very renowned university.”
Attempts to contact the Faculty of Engineering were also unsuccessful, but the faculty’s student society did provide comment.
Maksym Zabutnyy is the President of the Regina Engineering Student’s Society [RESS], and he says while he hasn’t received concerns directly from students, there have been comments made online surrounding Azam.
“Most of it [the concerns] are happening on social media. There are calls for administration to do something about it because being an engineer is based on ethics.”
Zabutnyy points to the fact that Azam could have problems with future students because of his charge.
“There will be students who have to take classes from a professor who does not have their respect. It’s hard to promote ethical behaviour in the student body if the people who we look up to are not doing the same.”
When asked if he felt Azam’s excuse that Paul’s section of his paper was insignificant, Zabutnyy said he couldn’t comment directly on that issue because he had not read both papers, but said that plagiarism should be easily identifiable.
“I think it’s pretty ingrained in every university student what plagiarism is and how to cite sources.”
He also offered a message to Paul.
“We have not spoken to Paul, but we are glad the case went in his favour.”
In 2014, Azam had the same paper withdrawn from Environmental Geotechnics, an engineering journal, which claims it “aims to disseminate knowledge and provide a fresh perspective regarding the basic concepts, theory, techniques and field applicability of testing methodologies and engineering practices in geoenvironmental engineering.”
The journal concluded that Azam had not given due credit to Arjun Paul for his work.
This is also not the first time a U of R professor has been charged with plagiarism. In 2014, Ezeddin Shirif, another engineering professor, was found guilty of plagiarising a Master’s student’s thesis, and also guilty of failing to cooperate with the investigation. Both professors are still employed at the university.