20 July 2011 | EN
India's rate of retractions is much higher than the global average
[CHENNAI/NEW DELHI] Indian scientists are calling for an office of research integrity that could detect, investigate and punish proven scientific misconduct in the country.
At a meeting last week (15–16 July), scientists also said they want institutes to appoint 'ethics officers' and undergraduate studies to include mandatory ethics modules. The meeting was organised by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing, an inter-disciplinary global forum for scientists.
The calls follow a series of plagiarism charges hitting Indian scientists. The most recent followed last year's report by the Indian science academies which concluded that genetically modified eggplant, Bt brinjal, was safe for consumption. The report was found to contain unreferenced text from a pro-biotechnology publication of India's Department of Biotechnology.
Another example was a retraction of research papers submitted by the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology to Biotechnology Advances in 2010.
At the meeting, T. A. Abinandanan, professor of materials engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, presented data showing a steep increase in the number of international journals in biomedical sciences retracting studies by Indian authors between 2001 and 2010. Of 103,000 published papers 70 were retracted, including 45 cases of misconduct such as fabrication of data, or plagiarism, including re-use of an author's own, earlier work. The average retraction rate was 68 per 100,000 papers.
For comparison, he cited American research into biomedical science papers published through PubMed, showing that retraction rates were 17 globally; 48 in China; 16 in Japan; 14 in United States; and 13 in United Kingdom.
Abinandanan said that most the cases of misconduct in India are due to plagiarism — the retracted papers are often first published in lower profile journals where authors tried to "fly under the radar".
He said that plagiarism cases may decline in the coming years, due to increasing use of plagiarism-detecting software.
Padmanabhan Balaram, director of IISc and editor of Current Science, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences, said that fabrication and falsification of data in India is "rare and more sophisticated".
Participants also criticised the lack of institutional transparency and scientific institutes' unwillingness to investigate scientific misconduct, make their findings public, and take action.
Sunil Mukhi, theoretical physicist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, said: "Ethics depend on the quality of leadership of science institutions. Acceptance of misconduct like plagiarism is very high, with institutions considering the perpetrator as part of family."
ironjustice ( Canada )
21 July 2011
The only way this is going to be curtailed is if they are charged with attempted murder. IF, during the commission of a crime , someone dies , those involved in that crime are guilty of murder. Criminal activity in Science research has the potential to lead to death. Attempted murder therefore is the charge to be levied against those found guilty of Scientific misconduct. Imho.
Petronilla - JKUAT ( Kenya )
22 July 2011
The issue of plagiarism is a very common problem among many African scientists. Many could be doing it unknowingly because they do not understand what it really means, and the education systems have not been keen on the issue. Some of the mentors, who are supposed to guide and teach the young researchers on ethical issues when it comes to research are at the forefront in unethical behaviour e.g in a case whereby the supervisor of a postgraduate research project lifted the students work on the project, presented it in a conference as his own, without even listing the student as a co author. Such kind of behavior should not be condoned. Let there be systems to create awareness of this vice and inform scienists on how to avoid it, while looking at ways of punishing those who do it.
ironjustice ( Canada )
22 July 2011
Prince Pieray Awele Odor ( Pieray Awele @ Associates | Nigeria )
25 July 2011
Sovereign, independent and free national bodies--NO US or UN interference--to investigate and punish, if found guilty, not only plagiarism but, MORE NECESSARY and important, falsehood and avoidable error regarding scientific safety study and reporting is overdue.
Another thing that is also overdue is taking the government of the USA, Monsanto, and other biotech, GM foods and GM Agro-chemicals producers to the ICC on Crime Against Humanity.
lkv ( India )
25 July 2011
Plagiarism cases are on the rise. My own work and diagram has been plagiarized by none other than a university. There should be a strong body in scientific community to stop this menace.
V B Lal ( India )
26 July 2011
An issue that may be looked into is whether the reputed journals/Scientific bodies in advanced countries, particularly from the US and Europe, follow dual standards in dealing with cases of misconduct of scientists from developing countries and the scientists from the developed West. For example, if an Indian scientist is found to be guilty of plagiarism, retraction of his paper is sure and prompt. However, if a western author plagiarises an Indian's work, is it the same treatment in store for him or lesser punishments like censor, debarring from being referees or contributors to the journal for token periods etc. are deemed sufficient.
V B Lal
Hari-Sri ( India )
28 July 2011
Part of the problem, besides the current general increase in lack of integrity in public affairs, not just in science, is the failure on the part of scientists to verify the findings/statements of published work, because of Journals insisting on 'original' work with positive results. Another reason is the proliferation of scientific/technical journals. Many journals in the third world do not get adequate number of "quality papers' and are forced to publish substandard papers and do not go too deep into the veracity of the papers submitted. A third reason is the insistence on publications for advancement in one's scientific career. We must remember punishment is effective only if the author is caught. Very often the lesson learnt is not "do not use unethical practices", but it is "avoid gettin caught!"
Dr.A.Jagadeesh ( Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives | India )
31 July 2011
Good idea but difficult to implement. Taking Dowry is a Crime. But who are the people who demand more dowry, the more educated and in good jobs.
There must be more emphasis on publications in Standard Journals besides patents to tone up quality research. Mere monitoring body will not serve the purpose. The race PUBLISH OR PERISH should change to PATENT OR PERISH.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
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