Monday, May 28, 2007

S.R. Valluri's letter to the editor of Outlook

Remember the Outlook story (linked to here) about various cases of scientific misconduct that were being investigated by the Society for Scientific Values? The magazine has published a couple of letters in response to that story. Here's a blunt one from Dr. S.R. Valluri (it's short, so I'm reproducing it here):

Developed countries tend to act decisively against practices of research misconduct (Wise Words, But Another’s, May 14). For example, when Bill Clinton was president, he had issued this finding, "Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research results." His Office of Science and Technology had been authorised to establish facts in instances of research misconduct, and ordered that when such misconduct is established by a preponderance of evidence, the scientist concerned and his institution be denied federal funding. The contrast in our country is striking. Mashelkar wasn’t the only one; many scientists in senior positions of responsibility too have been known to recklessly indulge in research misconduct. Asking them to protect the cause of science is like asking a goat to guard a cabbage. The Society for Scientific Values must be given statutory authority, with the principal scientific advisor to the government of India as the appellate authority in such matters. It is also time that ethics in the practice and management of science is taught at the pre-university level itself.