Monday, October 11, 2010

Hindustan Times: "Plagiarism punch knocks out IITs"

See the update at the end.

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According to Charu Sudan Kasturi's story in HT, plagiarism by Ashok Kumar & his students is not an isolated case within the IIT system:

Independent cases of plagiarism have hit three different Indian Institutes of Technology with scientists accused of stealing credit for others’ research, shocking the academic community and raising concerns about scientific ethics.

While you'll have to read the HT story for info on the other two cases, I'll just excerpt the last paragraph because it brings us the first reaction from Prof. Ashok Kumar of IIT-K:

IIT Kanpur’s Kumar accused the editor of Biotechnology Advances of “personal problems” with him for the retraction of the article. “Since the journal insisted, I agreed to a voluntary retraction. But... they have retracted the article unilaterally using inappropriate language in their retraction notice,” Kumar said.

There was a fear (see Rahul's comment in an earlier post) that students would end up getting all the blame in the IIT-K case. It turns out that Prof. Ashok Kumar is directing his ire elsewhere.

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Thanks to Ravisankar for the pointer.

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Update (11 October 2010): The Telegraph's G. Mudur alludes to the possibility of even bigger scandals at the IITs:

... [The] Society for Scientific Values, a 24-year old non-government ethics watchdog for scientists, is investigating complaints of scientific misconduct in two other IITs. [i.e., IIT-M and IIT-B]

He requested that the identities of the two other IITs not be revealed because the investigations into the complaints are still incomplete. One complaint claims researchers fabricated data, while the other claims that the same experimental data was used unjustifiably to generate multiple research papers.