This is at a time when in leading universities and colleges in the West even class assignments are regularly run past specialised software to check for plagiarism, intentional or otherwise.
On Keralappiravi Day in 2012, the varsity launched a Research Portal which, among other things, was to have had an anti-plagiarism software. All research candidates were supposed to run their thesis past this software before the ‘open defence’ was held. The portal was also supposed to automate the end-to-end handling of a doctoral degree, with its software doing everything from the scrutiny of a candidate’s research application to the scheduling of the open defence.
Now a candidate can submit his or her doctoral application online, access a list of approved research guides and centres. Later, an approved research guide can accept the application or reject it online. That is about the extent of automation of the research process in the University of Kerala. According to the original portal scheme, there was to have been an “eligibility checker” software which would decide—using pre-specified criteria—whether a candidate was qualified to research on a given topic.
The backbone of the system was to have been a database of all current research scholars, their topics and guides, and a list of all approved research guides and centres in the university. When the theses section of the Kerala University Library gets computerised, the portal will also help a potential research scholar find out whether anyone has done doctoral work on a particular topic or in any related area.
Once the system approves a doctoral application it would automatically be forwarded to the doctoral committee and from there to the university administration. E-mails would go out to the candidate and to the guide. The cancellation of registration too was supposed to be automated. This would happen if a candidate does not clear the required course work within two years. Moreover, if a full-time scholar does not turn in a thesis in five years and a part-time scholar in eight years, the system would generate a cancellation message.
There is no mechanism to detect plagiarism before or after a doctoral degree is awarded.