[NEW DELHI] The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, is embroiled in a plagiarism scandal after the journal Biotechnology Advances retracted two papers, saying they contained portions copied from Wikipedia.
The institute's director Sanjay Dhande announced this week (10 October) that a three-member panel would probe the matter and submit its report to the board of governors next month (2 November). The papers' authors were from the department of life sciences and bioengineering.
The retraction notice published online on 22 August in the journal, an Elsevier publication, explained: "This article has been retracted at the request of the editor as the authors have plagiarised part of several papers that had already appeared in several journals. One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. Reuse of any data should be appropriately cited. As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and we apologise to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process."
The journal has also retracted a paper on nanosilver research, published by biotechnologists at the division of molecular and cellular biology in Kalasalingam University, Tamil Nadu, in southern India.
Similarly, Kolkata-based daily The Telegraph reported that in 2009, the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research retracted a paper, one of whose authors was a professor of polymer science at the IIT.
India has been plagued by other plagiarism charges in recent years, including a controversy over a paper submitted by the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 2007, but most have faded from the limelight.
In March 2010, an editorial in the Indian Journal of Medical Research described the plagiarism problem as "rampant" and "all pervasive", and that "near lack of action thereof underscores the deep rot that has set in".
It said that "several reported allegations are from well-known institutes and systematic tracking by journals has thrown up many instances. What is more, many cases have come to light by sheer chance. Also, much of plagiarised stuff appears in Indian journals which are not indexed, hardly ever read or cited".
Nandula Raghuram, secretary of the Delhi-based Society for Scientific Values, an independent watchdog, told SciDev.Net that the Indian government has not heeded calls for an independent ethics body in the country.
Link to retractions in Biotechnology Advances