Tuesday, September 22, 2009

L'Affaire Sancheti: SSV gets into the act

In the first update since his exposé yesterday, Shamsheer Yousaf reports that the Society for Scientific Values will investigate into the allegations of plagiarism against Prof. Sandeep Sancheti.

... the Society for Scientific Values (SSV) — the country’s only research misconduct watch-group — has decided to investigate the case Speaking from New Delhi, SSV president, and former IIT Kharagpur Director K L Chopra said, “We will convey our overall views to the NIT-K Board of Governors Chairman Goverdhan Mehta for further action.’’ Chopra said that following a meeting of the executive committee of SSV, the details of the case will be published on the SSV website.[...]

While SSV does not have any statutory powers, it has been active in investigating several high-profile plagiarism cases in the past.

SSV, as some of you might know, has been involved in investigating allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud. There have been many reports and articles over the last several years demanding a statutory status for SSV (or a similar organization) so that these investigations will follow a fair and standard procedure, with a reasonably clear, unimpeachable closure, so that everyone can move on.

One of the recent reports on something that SSV worked on was the NIPER affair, where a whistle-blower is trying to get his job back after the institution turned on him for his good deed.

At the end of G. Mudur's story in The Telegraph, we find this quote:

The SSV has long been urging the government to create a mechanism to investigate science misconduct. “I think this is a legitimate demand,” said Goverdhan Mehta, former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Science policy makers and SSV members say there is no evidence to suggest that research misconduct is more common in India than elsewhere. But many countries have formal mechanisms to deal with this, said Chopra, the SSV president.

“The SSV has good intentions but it is a toothless body,” Mehta said.

Here's the punchline. The man bemoaning the "toothless" state of SSV, Prof. G. Mehta, is the occupant of the most "toothful" position at NIT-K: Chairman of its governing board.

My eyes are fixed on the next actions of this board.