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One question that keeps cropping up is why the plagiarized paper continues to be available on the journal's website. The Swedes who wrote the original article are pissed that some of the credit for the work may go to the plagiarizers, outsiders like us don't like it, and presumably even the 'authors' of the JMS paper would rather not deal with it. So, clearly, the paper must be pulled from the website, no?
Apparently, no! As Guru has pointed out, a plagiarized paper from Sathyabama University, Chennai (which Arunn blogged about) continues to be available. Similarly, the paper from Kundu's group, which was 'withdrawn' by the Journal of Biological Chemistry, continues to be available at the website (with an obscure link -- An addition or correction has been published -- on the sidebar taking you to the withdrawal notice).
I am told that there's some legal issue that prevents articles that have been published from being taken off the publisher's website.
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In some medical and biomedical journals, all the authors (a) are informed that a paper has been submitted listing them as co-authors and (b) are required to submit a disclosure form regarding any conflict of interest. In some others, (c) all the authors must sign the copyright form. Further, following recent scandals, several journals require (d) a statement from each individual author a statement about his/her specific contribution to the paper.
Clearly, JMS does not do or demand any of these. I guess this -- in particular, (a) -- is what is being used by two of the 'authors' to wiggle out of this mess (and their case may well be a valid one).
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In the hierarchy of crimes in science (or, scholarship in general), plagiarism ranks lower than fabrication and falsification of research data, and rightly so. In other countries, one loses one's job for fabrication, and at least one went to jail! But I'm not aware of anyone who has lost his/her job for plagiarism.
What about India? The results (at least, the ones that I know about) have been mixed. In the highest profile case of fabrication, the culprit -- Vishwajit Gupta of Punjab University -- never lost his job, and his career had a normal end: retirement. In the highest profile case of plagiarism, B.S. Rajput was forced to step down from the vice-chancellorship of Kumaon university (but he did not lose his job).
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Our institutions are not great when it comes to organizing a fair, impartial inquiry into allegations of misconduct, taking them to their logical conclusions, punishing those found guilty, and implementing systemic changes that could prevent similar misconduct in future. [Take a look at Sharath Rao's cynical take on this issue]. One would expect our science academies to take the lead in advocating policies and guidelines that safeguard the integrity of science practiced in India.
Appropriating the already published results of others without proper reference is obviously dishonest. When exposed, plagiarism generally receives the highest publicity and the authors concerned and the system they belong to are put under tremendous pressure. In most cases, the concerned authors offer some explanation in their defense. However, sometimes they disown responsibility and even the knowledge of the papers' existence, claiming that the co-authors included their names without consulting them. Such disclaimers should not be accepted at face value, but should be looked into in more detail. Nobody should communicate a joint paper without the knowledge of the other authors. There is a strong need to take punitive actions to discourage plagiarism. There is a general impression among the scientific community in India that those who indulge in this form of dishonest behaviour do not receive appropriate punishment, and escape relatively unscathed. Stronger and more consistent action would redress this situation.
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Well, I'm yet to find any official statement from the Academy about what it has done (or plans to do) with a known plagiarizer -- whose plagiarism was for a book on intellectual property (!) and who has not issued a public apology -- among its Fellows. Is this document on scientific values just empty rhetoric? Does the Academy have any moral authority when it asks universities to "take punitive actions to discourage plagiarism"?