Thursday, February 21, 2008

Massive fraud: The Chiranjeevi case

This C&EN report by William G. Schulz is shocking (catch it before it possibly goes behind a paywall):

A CHEMIST IN INDIA has been found guilty of plagiarizing and/or falsifying more than 70 research papers published in a wide variety of Western scientific journals between 2004 and 2007, according to documents from his university, copies of which were obtained by C&EN. Some journal editors left reeling by the incident say it is one of the most spectacular and outrageous cases of scientific fraud they have ever seen.

The culprit, sources say, is chemistry professor Pattium Chiranjeevi of Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati, India. SVU conducted an investigation into Chiranjeevi's work after a journal editor presented evidence to university officials that the professor had plagiarized and possibly falsified several manuscript submissions. Chiranjeevi, who communicates through a wide variety of e-mail addresses, has not responded to multiple requests for comment by C&EN. [...]

CHIRANJEEVI'S PLAGIARISM of other scientists' work was discovered by Purnendu K. (Sandy) Dasgupta, a chemistry professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, and U.S. editor of Analytica Chimica Acta. He says a reviewer, a former student of his, pointed out that a Chiranjeevi submission on measurement of arsenic(III) was similar to a published paper from a Japanese group on chromium(III). In fact, Dasgupta says, but for the change in the name of the chemical being measured, the papers were identical.

"At that point, I was really mad," Dasgupta says. He says it upset him that Chiranjeevi is also Indian and that his university is located in a holy city in India. "I wrote a scathing letter to Chiranjeevi, and said I was going to notify his university that they should look into his Ph.D."

Eventually, Dasgupta did make contact with Duvvuru Gunasekar, who was chair of the SVU chemistry department at the time. And he probed further into Chiranjeevi's publication record. He found several instances of duplicate submission—for example, a series of four papers on how to measure selenium submitted to as many journals—and he began to question data reported in these and other Chiranjeevi articles.

Dasgupta queried Gunasekar on instrumentation in his department only to find that Chiranjeevi apparently made false claims. The instruments cited in his papers did not exist in the department, according to Gunasekar. He asked Dasgupta to make an official complaint in writing, which, along with a letter from Elsevier's legal department, triggered the SVU investigation.

According to Dasgupta, Chiranjeevi has proclaimed his innocence through all of this and threatened to sue him in international court. He says Chiranjeevi blamed persons unknown for submitting falsified papers under his name through e-mail addresses that Chiranjeevi did not recognize or use.

But the university's investigation, according to the SVU source, found that Chiranjeevi had used those same e-mail addresses in papers that he stood behind as authentic. "He was trying to throw blame on his students," the source says.

Worse, "he was charging students a fee to award them degrees," the source says. "He listed as many as 56 coauthors on his papers. There were complaints prior to the investigation, but nobody looked into it very seriously." He says the university does not seem to have taken disciplinary action against any students who worked under Chiranjeevi's supervision, even though some of them were aware of and participated in the fraud he perpetrated.


  1. Wavefunction said...

    Shame on an Indian for snitching on another Indian ;)

  2. Anonymous said...

    I did not find that comment or wisecracks made on your site very amusing.

  3. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    This business about "we can't fire him" is a total cop-out. No court in India would support him if he were fired for fraud on this scale. He's probably well connected. Ah well.

  4. Wavefunction said...

    The comment I made was not at all directed towards the professor who brought this to the scientific community's notice; he did a wholly admirable and responsible thing. Rather, it is a satirical comment directed at those who would have seriously said what I said in jest.

  5. Anonymous said...

    this is bullshit... a big fucking story... do u ppl think 70+papers in 3 years is a easy matter?? this is a high drama created by a professor who is jealous of Mr. Chiranjeevi. how could u people be that much cruel towards a human like u? u should speak if u know the truth other wise fill ur badass wid pigshit... sorry for that... i was emotional just beacuse u dont hav a right to say that he is a fraud by not knowing any thing abt him.the bloody son of bitch Guna shekar who is the head of chemistry dept made this hightech drama... that motherucker is jealous of Mr.p.chiranjeevi who is gettitng fame in his period.the son of bith students(2 members)with him trapped Mr chiranjeevi in a perfect planning. do u think publishing in journals
    is a exact like copy and paste?? many ppl will read before publishing it in their journals...

  6. Anonymous said...

    ``do u ppl think 70+papers in 3 years is a easy matter?? "

    Dear, 70+ papers in 3 years is *not* an easy matter. And that is why this guy Chiranjeevi sounds even more unscrupulous to me.

  7. Anonymous said...

    Is there a relation between your banner and this post :-)
    Wondering is it same god or ten different gods?

  8. Unknown said...

    getting that many papers in a short time is not easy. i think there is a big gang behind this who are encouraging these type of people. if this is true happened with professor chiranjeevi, then what about the editors and reviewers who are going thoroughly through his papers and accepted for publication. hope god is there who is watching all dramas playing by the people and he will punish to all who are responsible

  9. Wavefunction said...

    before god takes time off from his busy schedule and intervenes, we need a committee that holds everyone up to due standards and fines them in one way or another when necessary. there is no accountability in so many of our institutions.

  10. Anonymous said...

    it is very difficult to publish any paper in international journals due to the fraud done by chiranjeevi,in
    plese notice that all the professors in are not like it is my request to all national and international journals that dont reject the papers coming from

  11. Anonymous said...

    Yo, know what - I checked out Prof Chiranjeevi's website in the college of math and physical sciences of SVU. Three points of immediate note -

    1. # of journal papers listed at 30 (far cry from 70 in 3 years huh!), although details of publications arent there. Good to say the plagiarized papers have been removed from the count (or so it seems). I assume the site is a fairly updated one, since his b'day is mentioned in 1957, and he is listed 51 yrs age.

    2. He is STILL a professor. Even after all this. Damn!

    3. Number of on-going PhD listed at zero. IMHO, this is good.

  12. kskmishra said...

    I find the action of SVU laughable. This is a serious crime and would be long lasting shame for the University if is does not take more serious action. The University should realize it affects a large number of people directly or indirectly.