A clarification that makes it muddier

Update 9/3/2012: Thanks to x1 for several new instances of plagiarism pointed out in the comments below, and to other commenters for a stimulating discussion. My reaction here.

As I noted in an update to the earlier post, CNR Rao has finally spoken about the case of plagiarism that has recently hit the news: I posted on this twice previously (1, 2). When I made the first post, it felt a bit strange that I am actually defending a senior scientist, but the feeling has only lasted until Prof. Rao’s first public comments on the matter, made to PTI (link to Deccan Herald).

Specifically, Rao is quoted as saying:

“This should not be really considered as plagiarism, but an instance of copying of a few sentences in the text,” Rao, Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, said….

Objecting to the use of the word “plagiarism”, Rao said the “copying” took place “because of [the student author]”…

[The student] had copied one sentence about the advantage of using solution processed material and another on description of a well-known equation from the literature, he said.

“I myself had written to the Editor that it was best to withdraw the paper,” Rao said. He said the paper was written by Prof Krupanidhi and he did not go through it and had no control on the issue.


(Rao named the student, but I won’t, since Google has an infinite memory and I don’t think he deserves this.)

Now, first, it was not two sentences that were copied: it was four (almost an entire paragraph) in the introduction alone, plus, apparently, an isolated sentence (or sentences) elsewhere.

Second: these days, most journals in biology and the biomedical sciences require the corresponding author to state that all authors have read and approved the paper. I could not find a similar requirement on the author guidelines webpage of Advanced Materials. However, they do link to the EuCheMS Ethical Guidelines for Publishing document, and state that it is followed by their editors. That document contains the quote:

On submission of the manuscript, the corresponding author attests to the fact that those named as co-authors have agreed to its submission for publication and accepts the responsibility for having properly included all (and only) co-authors.

Rao no doubt agreed to the submission, but it is important to know how he did so without reading the manuscript. This seems, at the least, highly irresponsible.

The ethical guidelines also states that an example of scientific misconduct is:

Plagiarism: taking material from another’s work and submitting it as one’s own.

So Rao, and Krupanidhi (who made a similar claim to The Hindu), need to explain why taking several sentences from another paper is not, in their view, plagiarism.

Finally, the ethical guidelines document says on authorship:


There is no universally agreed definition of authorship. As a minimum, authors should take responsibility for a particular section of the study. The award of authorship should balance intellectual contributions to the conception, design, analysis and writing of the study against the collection of data and other routine work. If there is no task that can reasonably be attributed to a particular individual, then that individual should not be credited with authorship.

So, which task in the paper can “reasonably be attributed” to Prof C N R Rao, that he be credited with authorship? Which particular section of the study does he take responsibility for?

I would not have asked these questions a few hours ago. In fact, to my embarrassment, I actually wrote in an earlier comment that “I don’t think there is any doubt CNR was involved in this paper and deserved to be an author.” In the light of his interview to PTI, he needs to answer these questions.

(And, sad to say, many other senior scientists, if pressed, will be unable to answer such questions convincingly for their own work.)

(It is worth noting that most biomedical journals these days, in addition to asking for an explicit statement that all authors have approved the manuscript, also demand a listing of each author’s contributions in the manuscript itself. Other sciences need to follow suit.)



UPDATE 24/2/2012: An anonymous commenter “x1” has given cases of two other papers authored by Krupanidhi and Rao that contain extensive copying from previous work: see the second and third comments below. The interesting thread here is
1. Again, this happens in the introductory sections and not, it seems, in Results or Discussion.
2. The copying is extensive and from multiple places.
3. In the first example, the original documents from which the copying was done aren’t even cited.
4. The first author, I am sad to note, is the same in all these cases.

It will be easy to blame the first author, but three authors are common here and they should all answer some very hard questions.

To me, an equally uncomfortable feature is their failure to discuss the work they were plagiarising. Ghosh et al were doing essentially the same experiments on very similar graphene systems, and according to this commenter, the similarity is so strong that the student may well have been trying only to verify previously published results. If the senior scientists then decided to publish, they should certainly have compared their results with the published ones. Sometimes scientists (honestly or otherwise) claim ignorance for failure to cite, but that is clearly not the case here.

Now, in the first example pointed out by x1, too, the system they are studying is very similar to the one studied by Itskos et al, and some of their results look similar too (however, I claim no expertise in this area). There may well have been enough novelty in their paper to warrant publication, but the failure to cite a relevant publication that you are plagiarising from needs, I believe, to be explained. I have not looked at the second example of x1 in detail yet: but in this case they plagiarised from a much older paper (1995), which they cite, and a textbook.

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133 Comments

  1. Pramod

     /  February 24, 2012

    His comments make it sound like it’s entirely the student’s fault.

    I don’t know if that’s what he intended, but it was a bit disappointing to read.

    Reply
  2. x1@mailinator.com

     /  February 24, 2012

    How many more “instances of copying of a few sentences in the text” can we find in papers that Prof. CNR Rao has (not) written? I know of at least three more which they have not been retracted (nor has there been an apology). Starting the count at the paper for which the authors have already issued an apology, here is Exhibit 2:

    xxx, yyy, S.B. Krupanidhi, C.N.R. Rao
    Electroluminescence from GaN-polymer heterojunction
    10.1016/j.jlumin.2011.04.027

    1. From the first paragraph in “et al and CNR Rao”:

    “However, conversion with traditional phosphors results in poor colour rendering due to the relatively weak green and red emission from the respective components of the phosphor mixtures. In addition the phosphors are traditionally prepared in typical grain sizes of tens of micrometres inhibiting the development of advanced devices, where the emitter elements could be comparable to or smaller than the particle size of the phosphors.”

    From Itskos et al, Nanotechnology (2009)
    10.1088/0957-4484/20/27/275207

    “However, conversion with traditional phosphors results in poor colour rendering due to the relatively weak green and red emission from the respective components of the phosphor mixtures. In addition, the phosphors are traditionally prepared in typical grain sizes of tens of micrometres. This is a limitation in the development of advanced devices where the emitter elements could be comparable to, or smaller than, the particle size of the phosphors.”

    2. Immediately after the previous extract in “et al and CNR Rao”:

    “Organic semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in turn can span the entire visible spectrum and have low-cost potential due to high-throughput manufacturing, offering new prospects for displays and lighting applications. These two semiconductor families have their own special advantages and disadvantages. Especially, inorganic materials exhibit excellent electrical properties but need complex and expensive fabrication techniques to characterise them. Their spectral coverage is also limited, although down-conversion with phosphors allows access to other colours and white-light emission. Comparatively organic semiconductors offer excellent luminescence properties, with a greater variety of emission wavelengths, but exhibit relatively poor electrical behaviour. Combining the desired features of both the families is clearly an attractive proposition.”

    From Heliotis et al, Advanced Materials (2006):
    DOI: 10.1002/adma.200501949

    “Organic semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in turn can span the entire visible spectrum and have low-cost potential due to high-throughput manufacturing, opening attractive prospects for displays and lighting. These two semiconductor families have their own especial advantages and disadvantages. Most notably, GaN structures offer excellent electrical properties but are inherently prone to the complex and expensive fabrication techniques that characterize inorganic semiconductors. Their spectral coverage is also limited, although down-conversion with phosphors allows access to other colors and white-light emission. On the other hand, organic semiconductors offer excellent luminescence properties, with a greater variety of emission wavelengths and significantly higher photoluminescence efficiencies, but exhibit less good electrical behavior. Combining the best attributes of each family would clearly be an attractive proposition.”

    Reply
  3. x1@mailinator.com

     /  February 24, 2012

    Exhibit 3: XX, YY, C.N.R. Rao, S.B. Krupanidhi
    doi:10.1088/0957-4484/20/40/405205

    There are two (some might say 1.5) “instances of copying a few sentences in the text.”

    1. First paragraph of (XX, YY, CNRR, SBK):

    “… In order to observe NDR, it is necessary to satisfy the following conditions. There must be upper satellite valleys to which carriers can be excited on application of an electric field and mobility of carriers in these valleys should be much smaller than in the gamma valley ( ). The separation between the satellite valleys and the gamma valley should be larger than kBT where T is the device operation temperature. The separation should not, however, be larger than the band gap.”

    To be compared with “Fundamentals of Semiconductors: Physics and Materials Properties” (p. 230):

    “In order to observe NDR, it is necessary to satisfy the following conditions. There must be higher energy valleys to which carriers can be excited under high electric field. The mobility of carriers in these high energy valleys should be much smaller than in the lower energy valleys. The separation of the higher energy valleys from the lower energy valleys should be much larger than kBT where T is the device operation temperature. However, the separation should not be larger than the band gap.”

    2. Second paragraph of (XX, YY, CNRR, SBK):

    “GaN can also be used for high frequency devices such as transferred electron devices due to its large longitudinal optical phonon energy and large energy separation between the gamma valley of the conduction band and the next satellite valleys (M–L) [4, 7, 8]. Littlejohn et al [9] first predicted an NDR in GaN under high electric fields ..”

    To be compared with: Huang et al, 1995; doi:10.1063/1.114797:

    “… It is also predicted that GaN can be used for high frequency devices such as transferred electron devices (TED) due to its large longitudinal optical phonon energy and large energy separation between the central valley ~G! of the conduction band and the next-lowest energy minimum.2,3 In 1975, Littlejohn et al.4 first predicted a negative differential resistivity ~NDR! in GaN under high electric field … “

    Reply
  4. Rahul Siddharthan

     /  February 24, 2012

    Dear x1 — thanks for your interesting examples. You mentioned three new examples — awaiting the third. Though you have removed the junior authors’ names, the lead author is the same in the two you give as in the Advanced Materials one. And, again, they fail to cite the Itskos and Heliotis papers, as well as the older references in your second example (at least they gave a minor and easily missable citation to Ghosh et al).

    Reply
  5. The plagiarism is outrageous, even had I not read the three egregious example x1 above has provided. The shifting of the blame is cowardly. The naming of the student is nothing short of despicable. I would love to see the scientific community rise up and condemn CNR for this.

    Reply
  6. Sivasankar Chander

     /  February 24, 2012

    In addition, there seem to be at least 2 diagrams in the APL paper that seem to have been lifted straight by et al. and Rao.

    Reply
  7. rajkamal

     /  February 24, 2012

    maybe its worth the effort to use something like turnitin (http://turnitin.com/en_us/home) and check for plagiarism in all of his 1500+ publications. especially the early ones

    Reply
  8. Rohini Muthuswami

     /  February 24, 2012

    Just out of curiosity I checked Prof. CNR Rao’s publications. He has over 1500 publications. Amazingly prolific. Dan Schechtman, the Nobel Prize winner for 2011, has just 68 papers in refereed journals.
    I have noticed this phenomenon amongst many scientists in India, wherein they insist on being made an author on papers. It is unfortunately all about number games wherein one wants to boast that they have so many papers, without bothering about the quality or their contribution.

    Reply
  9. suresh

     /  February 24, 2012

    Just out of curiosity I checked Prof. CNR Rao’s publications. He has over 1500 publications.

    Let us say Professor Rao started publishing research papers at the very young age of 18. (If you assume a later age, then my point below is only reinforced.) He is now almost 78 years old. This means that over a period of 60 years, he has been publishing an average of 25 papers per year! I am not a scientist but I have to say that this sounds implausible. Like all creative people, I would think scientists too have periods when they are intensely creative and other periods when they are not so creative. So I can well imagine a great scientist producing 25 papers per year over a short period which corresponds to his/her most creative period.

    But to maintain an average of 25 papers per year over 60 years? I am not sure that there are any who come close, let alone surpass this mark. It might be interesting plotting the number of CNRR papers per year over his career and looking at the resulting plot. We might get some new insights into CNRR’s brilliance. For instance, we might find that he actually became more productive after the age of 60….I suppose we ought to thank CNRR for giving so many ideas for follow-up research (see Rajkamal’s comment above, for instance). True, nothing useful will come out of it but still….

    *Sigh*

    Reply
  10. rajkamal

     /  February 24, 2012

    here are the works of kim il sung and kim jong il. they too pale in comparison to the great man
    http://www.korea-dpr.com/lib/

    Reply
  11. Sivasankar Chander

     /  February 24, 2012

    OK, it’s just made it to Nature, where the tone of the article makes it look like an isolated instance and the fault of the reasearch student. Methinks that it’s about time to make it clear at the comments section (you need to register there) that it’s part of a systematic pattern of fraud and pathological science (“polywater”, anyone?) that dates back decades.

    Reply
    • suresh

       /  February 24, 2012

      The whole thing is becoming more and more unclear. In the Deccan Herald, Professor Rao is quoted as saying:

      … the paper was written by Prof Krupanidhi and he did not go through it and had no control on the issue.

      In Nature, he is quoted thus:

      Rao says that he did go through the paper before it was submitted, but missed the problem. “Usually I write the entire paper but in this case, I had gone through mainly the results and the discussion.”

      So did he go through the paper or not? But at least he is consistent in one regard: he continues to blame the student.

      Reply
  12. Gautam Menon

     /  February 24, 2012

    Specifically to address two comments – those of Rohini and Suresh – it is not uncommon for chemists, especially at the highest level and heading large groups (e.g. Corey, Whitesides) – to have in excess of 1000 publications. An example from physics, the respected theoretical physicist Kurt Binder, has around 1200, but is younger by about 10 years or so. The field in which CNR works, solid state chemistry, is also one in which such prolific output is possible and 1500 publications by age 78 should not thus automatically signal that his contribution to a good number of these papers must have been minor or non-existent. Specifically, this is not the opinion of people I know well who work with him and there is little doubt that, as a chemist, he is remarkable. Of course this has little to do with this particular issue but it is perhaps worth mentioning this to avoid being sidetracked.

    Reply
  13. suresh

     /  February 24, 2012

    Gautam,

    Thanks for your clarifications. I withdraw my remarks about his productivity. Perhaps Rahul can delete my comment.

    Reply
  14. Rahul Siddharthan

     /  February 24, 2012

    The discussion is indeed being sidetracked. It is OK to speculate about his productivity and whether, as he claims, he “usually” writes the entire paper. But if anyone wants to allege previous wrongdoing, please have proof. So far, it is credible to blame the student for the plagiarism, and there is no evidence in these papers that the results reported therein were fraudulent. Some of the comment here border on the libellious.

    Reply
  15. rajkamal

     /  February 24, 2012

    @gautam citations exist for a purpose. if X’s work inspires a study, X is cited, not made a co-author

    Reply
  16. NotCNR

     /  February 24, 2012

    The online oxford dictionary defines plagiarism as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”

    The “work” of a Rowling is different from the “work” of a Maxwell. The words of Rowling constitute the essence of her work. The results of Maxwell, for example, his equations constitute the essence of his work. We read Rowling, not just for the story but for the manner in which she writes that evokes our imagination. While we occasionally do praise a well written paper, that is hardly the reason why we read papers. Our interest lies in the nature of experiments (or equations as in Maxwell’s case), the results and how it changes our understanding of the area.

    In this sense, CNR is right — this is not plagiarism (at least not yet). And the editors of the journal seem to have used the word “overlap.” This is a more nuanced word and a better word to use in this context. “Plagiarism” is too broad a stroke to cover the wide range of lapses.

    That said, that there are multiple papers from the same set of authors all of which suffer from the overlap is sad.

    Now to the statements made to the press. Anyone who has interacted with the press for any period of time knows that there is a gulf between what you think you said and what the journalist decides to write. Let us be careful about drawing conclusions based on press reports.

    The orthogonal comments of Rohini and Suresh betrays understanding of how some areas of science work and Gautam address them adequately.

    Scientists, esp in and around IISc have enough reasons for not liking CNR. But this incident is NOT.

    Reply
  17. Rohin Muthuswami

     /  February 24, 2012

    Based on Gautam’s comment, I too would like to withdraw my comment on Prof. CNR Rao’s productivity.
    However, what saddened me in this whole episode was how the authors shifted the blame on the student who wrote the paper. It would have been more graceful if the senior authors had at least accepted that they should have read the paper thoroughly. I have been teaching for 9 years and have found that most students have no concept of plagiarism. Therefore, as teachers and as scientists, we have to scrutinize the papers very carefully to ensure that it is free from plagiarism.

    Reply
  18. Pramod

     /  February 24, 2012

    Rahul, what do you mean by saying “it is credible to blame the student” for the plagiarism? The way I see it, the blame has to be shared among the co-authors. When one signs up for co-authorship, one is taking responsibility for all aspects, good and bad, of a publication.

    If the transcript of the interview is accurate, it reads as if Prof. Rao absolving himself of all blame and placing it at the feet of the student, which is rather disappointing, to say the least.

    Also, and I’m sorry for beating a dead horse here, Prof. Rao says the paper was written by Prof. Krupanidhi but the mistake is the student’s fault. This doesn’t make sense. Either the paper was written by the student and nobody else read it, in which case they are all to blame, or the paper was written Prof. Krupanidhi and then they have no business blaming the student.

    Reply
  19. Rahul Siddharthan

     /  February 24, 2012

    NotCNR — I think most academic ethics guidelines, including the one used by the journal in question (that I linked to in the post), disagree with you. Cutting and pasting text is plagiarism, whether there are new results described or not. That apart, as I said to the Hindu’s reporter, one is expected to do one’s own literature survey, not borrow it from another paper. In my mind, using Ghosh et al’s citations embedded in their own text would have been almost equally bad.

    Rohini, Suresh — I’ll leave the comments up, as well as your notices of withdrawal. I think it’s understandable to be puzzled or questioning of 1,500 papers. Especially when Rao goes on record saying he “usually” writes the entire paper.

    Rohini – I fully agree that the lab heads should have emphasised these things before asking the student to write.

    Pramod — I think that is unrealistic. An author cannot be responsible for the whole paper. I think the EuCheMS guidelines that I linked above are fair: each author should take responsibility for a part of the paper. But I agree that thesis advisors have a greater responsibility.

    Sivasankar — Ah, polywater. The most famous person who fell for that is, I beilieve, Rustum Roy. Perhaps CNR is, or was, a believer in homeopathy. Any other examples?

    Reply
  20. suresh

     /  February 24, 2012

    My last word on this discussion: Firstly, apologies for needless speculation again. It was neither necessary nor warranted.

    On this specific case, I am still not sure what to think. After Rahul’s initial post, I was inclined to agree with him: that there had indeed been a transgression but the punishment (an apology) seemed to be in line with the crime. I would have thought that the matter should end there.

    It is Professor Krupanidhi’s and more importantly, Professor Rao’s subsequent comments that has muddied the picture by opening up a set of completely different issues. First, is it fair to name the student in public? Even if the student was guilty, it was hardly necessary to name him. Second, CNRR’s contradictory statements about whether he has read or not read the paper before submission creates doubts about his own credibility.

    Now “x1” opens up issues with some other CNRR papers…so I just don’t know what to think.

    The way I look at it, though, the issue no longer concerns Professor Rao. His enemies (I gather he has plenty) will just see this as vindication of what they had thought all along. His friends (who I think are also plentiful) will see in it the jealousy of petty minds. We need not get sucked into this silly pro-CNR v/s anti-CNR debate (yes, sorry again for contributing to it) because, all said and done, Professor Rao, at the age of 78, is at the tail-end of his career.

    The question is about the future. On this, Abi, Rahul and Rohini are absolutely right: unless we train students better on ethics issues, we are asking for more plagiarism. We ought to remember that plagiarism affects not just the plagiarists. The presence of a few plagiarists in India causes the entire Indian research community to be looked at with suspicion — unjust but understandable — and harms researchers based in India by making publishing in reputed journals more difficult. My sister, for instance, tells me that in her field, papers from Indian universities are looked at with a great deal of suspicion.

    I would be happy if all this discussion causes plagiarism issues to be taken much more seriously in Indian universities. But I am not holding my breath.

    Reply
  21. NotCNR

     /  February 25, 2012

    Rahul, I did not say they did not do anything wrong. I said CNR does not deserved to be banished/derided for this, which is also your stand (at least in your initial post). More recent events may have made you move away from this stand somewhat based on something said to the press etc is not reliable enough to change my mind.

    Plagiarism is a loaded word. It means so many things to so many people. You just have to look at this thread to see the viscousness http://bit.ly/xVc1kv Even amongst the more aware readers (for example, of this site), some of us seem to experience Schadenfreude. Surely he doesn’t deserve this kind of reaction for this incident.

    So my limited point was: give it a name so that we can separate serious offences from relatively minor ones. So that we don’t tar everyone with the same brush of “plagiarism.”

    “It is plagiarism but not serious,” is the equivalent of “it is murder but a minor one” to most people. Words need to be error correcting (i.e., far away) so that we don’t mistake one for another. Because we are dumb people.

    Reply
  22. suresh

     /  February 25, 2012

    “It is plagiarism but not serious,” is the equivalent of “it is murder but a minor one” to most people.

    Sorry, what is an example of a “minor” murder? Are you serious?

    Reply
  23. NotCNR

     /  February 25, 2012

    Which part of the sentence was difficult to parse? There is obviously no example of “minor” murder just as there is no “non-serious” plagiarism to most people. Oh, I forgot to add emoticons :-)

    Reply
  24. suresh

     /  February 25, 2012

    My initial inclination was to treat the matter as a case of minor plagiarism because the results themselves were uncontroversial (or so I thought). A major act of scientific plagiarism would be where the results themselves are plagiarized, like for instance in the Gopal Kundu affair. (Rahul has written about that, quite extensively if I remember.)

    I can’t think of a minor murder nor have I heard of Professor Rao’s novel “its copying, not plagiarism” argument which you seem to support, but thanks for clarifying. Let’s leave it at that.

    Reply
  25. Romit

     /  February 25, 2012

    The incident and Rao’s response to it show him in poor light for two reasons:

    1. Diverting all blame to one of the authors in a co-authored article belittles his scientific leadership. I would imagine that even if he was not active in the study and did not read the article with the thoroughness it deserved, he should at least abide with the spirit of research that is coauthored. It’s like a General of an army apportioning the entire blame of the army’s defeat on the most junior jawan while absolving himself of all responsibility.
    2. Any way you look at it, this is clear evidence of Rao’s slipshod and unethical research practices.

    As the premier science administrator of the country, he should resign as science advisor. There’s really no shame in it. CNR Rao is an outstanding scientist and administrator, but he clearly has not been able to balance the demands of being the science advisor with maintaining his unnaturally high publishing throughput.

    Reply
  26. Ajit R. Jadhav

     /  February 25, 2012

    Rahul,

    1. Re. the current controversy: I would like to have access to the papers (CNRR’s and others’) that the anonymous author lists here. Abi has not responded to my request to him here [http://nanopolitan.blogspot.in/2012/02/wow.html?showComment=1330090834132#c3491398344766482883], though he has added a new post since then. So, I repeat the request to you. Would it be possible for you to share the papers? If not, please drop me a line by email (a j 1 7 5 t p [AT] yahoo [DOT] co [dot] in) or leave a reply here on this thread. Thanks in advance.

    2. Re. homeopathy. Polymer water and the homeopathic effect are two different things, even though same people might have advocated both. You don’t have to believe in homeopathy to know that the first is related to an alleged/claimed physical effect in inanimate matter whereas the second is an alleged/claimed modality of medicine, a method of clinically treating diseases.

    I do have a hypothesis on how homeopathy might work; it’s publication on my blog is a work in progress. (Rahul: Do reconsider if you still wish to share the papers with me. (And, oh, BTW, Rahul, I also have a paper claiming resolution of the wave-particle duality of QM, in the context of light. Yes, Rahul, do consider this fact too, before deciding whether to share the papers/reply to me/etc. or not.))

    3. Re. what constitutes plagiarism. I do have something to say on the topic but am in a hurry right now because I have to prepare for 3 lectures to be delievered today (I teach a course that is held only on weekends). However, you (Rahul and others) may expect a new post on my blog covering what constitutes plagiarism, later today or early tomorrow. In case you wonder what my position is: it is very close to what NotCNR’s. He has written well; however, I think, the topic could do with a bit more detailed explanation. Hence my forthcoming post.

    Before closing, a reminder to Rahul (and Abi, in case he reads this) re. point 1.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

    Reply
  27. Rahul Siddharthan

     /  February 25, 2012

    All — my take is more or less what Suresh says above. The first example was not serious in itself and I defended Rao and co-authors rather forcefully in my first post. But Rao’s response (and, to a lesser extent, Krupanidhi’s); the new examples; the student’s claim that he didn’t know what he did was wrong (which suggests a major failing of his advisors); and the question in the last two paragraphs of my post, of whether the original papers were cited adequately — all leave me very unncomfortable. I think Rao could have acquitted himself better, and not washed his hands of all responsibility and laid the blame on the student.

    Whether Rao deserves authorship for the sort of contributions he makes to such papers is a separate debate and, as Gautam says, is very field-dependent. Rao is not unusual in his field.

    I understand NotCNR’s “minor murder” analogy but don’t really agree with it — there are degrees to plagiarism, and if the public doesn’t understand it, it’s our job to educate them, I believe. Calling it “minor plagiarism” suggests you are trivialising the offence. But let’s leave it at that.

    I’ll be travelling for a few days and not online as much as I’ve been recently. Hopefully the news too quietens down.

    Reply
  28. Anonymous

     /  February 25, 2012

    It is a well known fact in the SSCU dept of IISc that CNR Rao makes all students in his group write his name on their papers, whether he advises them or not. Its a shame..

    Reply
  29. Sivasankar Chander

     /  February 25, 2012

    A bit off-topic: Polywater and the Ultra-diluted water phenomenon are different things, as Ajit pointed out. They happened independently of each other in different decades, though there may be some common elements. IMHO, the polywater episode was pathological, bandwagon-driven science, but there probably was just minor scientific wrong-doing on the part of most of the scientists involved – they sincerely believed that the effects they were measuring (now known to have been due to contamination with sweat, dirty glassware, etc.) were really due to polymerized water.

    I can easily see why a lot of scientists (including CNR) got seduced/conned by the possibility of its existence. After all, ethylene and propylene are mostly useless hydrocarbons, while their polymers (with vastly different physical properties) have a huge impact on human life. If one could polymerize water, the impact on mankind (both benign and otherwise) would be even bigger! Forget the Nobels, the guys who came up with polywater would have been regarded as veritable demi-gods. Alas, it cannot exist, on purely
    thermodynamic grounds – but it’s still a reasonable topic for a science-fiction novel…

    Reply
  30. Gautam Menon

     /  February 25, 2012

    Here’s a brief set of thoughts regarding the
    issue of responsibilities of authors in a multi-author
    paper, illustrated by a specific example.
    My example is that of the crystal grower in an
    experimental solid-state physics paper. The growth and
    characterization of good crystals is an indispensable
    part of such an experiment. Once crystals are grown,
    they can be distributed and exchanged between multiple
    groups, each doing very different experiments. These
    experiments could be on a different continent, using
    experimental techniques perhaps not even extant at the
    time the crystal was made, by scientists, technicians
    and students who have never met the crystal grower. The
    current practice is that the crystal grower is an author
    on all papers that use the original crystal. Whether he
    or she should remain an author in perpetuity is debated,
    and one can find reasonable arguments on both sides. It
    is conventional (actually required by journal norms) for
    the crystal grower to receive the manuscript by
    circulation prior to submission and to ‘sign off’ on it. It is
    not particularly reasonable to require that every
    crystal grower be knowledgeable about the details of
    every potential experiment to be performed on the
    crystal or to know the literature well enough to say if
    part of the text of the draft paper has been plagiarized
    or not.

    Under the current system prevalent in physics (and chemistry)
    as an author, the crystal grower would be responsible for
    each and every paper written using that crystal, whether
    the paper is a Nobel-prize winning one, whether it contains
    large sections of plagiarized text or is simply made up from
    beginning to end. However, here I think any reasonable
    person would think that the crystal grower, while occupying
    a specific and vital niche, can hardly be responsible for
    what happens with the papers which use his or her crystal. (And
    here the argument that one should contribute to the paper
    in its entirety if one wants to be a coauthor has its limitations.
    There are fields in which it is possible and other
    fields (such as the biological sciences) where it is simply not,
    especially in large multi-author experiments that make a
    comprehensive contribution. And arguing that crystal
    growers should be left out of author lists makes even
    less sense. Crystal growth
    is a delicate art, and crystal growers as much a part of
    the academic landscape, being judged and promoted on the
    strength of the number and quality of their
    publications, as anyone else.)

    A similar argument could be made for the large (400+) number
    of authors on an experimental particle physics paper. Physics
    journals do not make it a requirement that author contributions
    be separately listed and it is possible that one author may have
    contributed a specific piece of instrumentation, one author a
    statistical analysis, one author a theoretical fit and so on.
    Clearly it would be reasonable to make an author responsible for
    his or her specific part in the larger enterprise. But it equally
    would be wrong to insist that he take responsibility for each
    and every error in the final published paper.

    I mention this because I see this as a genuine difficulty with
    our current system, one that is addressed in the
    biological sciences with journals requiring that specific
    contributions be attributed to specific authors by name, but not
    in the physical and chemical sciences (to my knowledge). Clearly
    we need to move in this direction.

    Reply
    • Sivasankar Chander

       /  February 25, 2012

      The argument about the crystal grower above is misleading and disingenuous at the outset. In the case of et al. and Rao (the impugned AM paper), there is in fact a separate acknowledgement at the end to two different individuals (not any of the co-authors) for their assistance in preparing the samples of RGO and GNR. So clearly, Rao’s name was not on the paper for preparing the samples (the role of the crystal grower in the example above). So what was his actual contribution to the work described? He cannot merely provide a boiler-plate assertion that he provided the lab facilities at JNCASR where the samples were prepared. IMHO, that does not qualify as a *specific* contribution that would entitle Rao to a claim of co-authorship over the work described in the paper.

      In reality, given that he’s trying to publicly distance himself from the AM paper, it is reasonable to conclude that he did none of the work that’s reported in the paper, and his name was on it for the same reason it’s there on numerous papers that were written by others (with no contribution whatsoever by Rao) – he controlled the infrastructure and could make or break the careers of those who actually did the work.

      He’s stuck in Zugzwang here – anything he says will make the situation worse. If he contributed to the work, he should specifically identify what he did. If he did not contribute to the work, he should explain why his name is on the paper. In either case, he’s fully responsible for the plagiarism, which is not limited to the 4 sentences that have been lifted verbatim from the APL paper. Figure 5 in the AM paper is a copy (with minor modifications) of Figure 2 (c) in the APL paper. The core finding of the AM paper that RGO exhibits a photocurrent response on stimulation with IR illumination was already covered in detail (with characterization, graphs, etc.) by Ghosh et al. in the APL paper – but there is no specific attribution in the AM paper to this effect. Instead, we find a generic citation, ironically at the same plagiarized introductory sentences in the 2nd paragraph, which seeks to bury the APL paper at #22 in a list of 50 references.

      In conclusion, it is clear that et al. and Rao had sought to improperly claim credit for the original findings of Ghosh et al., by repeating the work (that’s OK) without clear and specific attribution (definitely not OK, and a major transgression of scientific ethics) to the original work.

      Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  February 25, 2012

      Sivasankar: Please keep in control of yourself. Gautam is not being disingenuous. He is describing standard practice in certain fields.

      Gautam:
      (1) The guidelines I linked are of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMs), and they (and Advanced Materials) surely cover the crystal grower situation. Now, I can understand that the process of growing the crystal has to be documented and published — once. After that, isn’t a reference to that first paper enough? If the grower gets authorship in perpetuity, what part of subsequent papers does he take responsibility for?
      (2) Does this perpetual authorship apply to all members of the lab that grew the crystal (few PIs do hands-on labwork), or only the PI? This relates to Sivasankar’s comment above about the acknowledgement of “help” in the RGO and GNR samples. Why weren’t they authors?

      It looks more and more to me that Rao is paying the price for not being sufficiently attentive to where his name appears as an author. It seems clear that, to people not aware of practices in certain fields (ie, the majority of scientists and other academic researchers), a number like 1500 papers invites only incredulity and derision, not admiration.

      Reply
      • Gautam Menon

         /  February 25, 2012

        If the crystal is grown independently following published guidelines, then the crystal grower doesn’t merit authorship. The situation I referred to was one in which the crystals which are part of batches synthesized initially, ‘live on’ through multiple experiments. This can happen for multiple reasons – (i) the skill of the particular crystal grower can yield large crystals, useful say in some types of experiments, while following the standard synthesis route documented in the paper might generically yield smaller ones, (ii) the synthesis might involve the use of hazardous materials which not all labs have the skills to handle, and (iii) some smaller labs might not have crystal growth facilities integrated with them and might prefer to use crystals grown elsewhere. (Caution: The previous sentence relates to my understanding of the situations, as derived from discussions with others, so should be taken under advisement.)

        It is possible, as you say, that the problem is one of ‘not being sufficiently attentive’. This would mesh with CNR’s statements. And of course, the sheer magnitude of his oeuvre invites some (justifiable) amazement. I just wanted to make the overall point that the whole issue of ‘who contributed what’, at all times a very difficult one to adjudicate, is further muddled in the physics/chemistry literature by the absence of an explicit author responsibility statement.

        My personal view, for what its worth: Scientists at the level of CNR probably don’t do what biologists call ‘bench-work’ any more, so while it might be ‘reasonable to conclude that he did none of the work that’s reported in the paper’, this is a statement that could be made about most scientists at an equivalent level of seniority in this and similar fields who run large groups. In the sense of ‘personally did any of the experimental work’. What scientists at this level contribute is a broad, comprehensive and up-to-date view of the field, as well as a deep knowledge of the literature and a sense of what problems remain un-attempted. I understand that he fills such a role in the collaborations I have some indirect knowledge of. Whether he contributed or didn’t in this particular case, whether the level of this contribution was only at the level of supervising the JNCASR student who is a co-author, whether he should have exerted more due diligence in checking through and verifying a paper on which he was a co-author, I don’t know. Although the last he certainly should have and there can be no excuses for that.

        Reply
        • Rahul Siddharthan

           /  February 25, 2012

          Yes, if someone else grows the crystal using previously published methods, then the original guy doesn’t deserve authorship. My question is, if the crystal grower grows the same crystal multiple times using the same method (or grows it once and distributes parts of it to experimental groups), and gets authorship in each paper that results, does he also describe his methods in each paper? That makes no sense, if the methods didn’t vary. It would also be a violation of the general requirement that the work you describe be new and not previously published. But if he doesn’t describe the method again, what part of the new paper does he claim responsibility for? If he can’t claim any section of the new paper as his, isn’t he disqualified by the EuCheMs guidelines from being an author?

          To me it seems a bit like saying if you re-implement BLAST, you don’t need to give Altschul and co authorship, but if you use the original BLAST, Altschul becomes an author of your paper. So he’d have thousands of papers by now. Writing an efficient implementation of BLAST is, I suspect, as much hard work as growing a crystal is. Once it is written, an infinite number of copies can be made and distributed, but I don’t think that changes the principle. You can imagine someone choosing to keep their software proprietary and distributing it only on the condition that authorship is given…

          Of course CNR didn’t invent these rules, but I suspect he’s extremely comfortable with them.

          Reply
        • Rahul Siddharthan

           /  February 25, 2012

          ps – also, in cases where a faculty member has given the overall “picture” of the project and a student has done the hard work, it is normal that the student is first author and the advisor is the last author, and anyone else who contributes comes in the middle. In this case, if the work was mainly Krupanidhi’s and the student’s, why is CNR the last author?

          The picture of this paper is getting uglier the longer I think about it.

          Reply
      • Gautam Menon

         /  February 25, 2012

        Regarding: “(2) Does this perpetual authorship apply to all members of the lab that grew the crystal (few PIs do hands-on labwork), or only the PI? This relates to Sivasankar’s comment above about the acknowledgement of “help” in the RGO and GNR samples. Why weren’t they authors?”, I don’t know. I actually didn’t mean to imply that the crystal growth example had anything to do with this particular case – I just used it as a case study for thinking about author responsibilities in general. Where to draw the line is of course a very interesting question. I know of one lab in which all members of the lab used to be, by default, authors on every paper which appeared from that lab, regardless of even whether they were in town when the experiments were done. This ridiculous practice was discontinued after a while.

        Reply
  31. rajkamal

     /  February 25, 2012

    Can someone with good web-crawling skills do the following analysis?
    X = no. of papers from JNCASR/IISc that cite CNR Rao atleast once
    Y = no. of papers from JNCASR/IISc that have CNR Rao as a co-author

    Is (X-Y) significantly greater than zero?

    Reply
    • Buddy

       /  February 25, 2012

      Please remember that CNR can be citing ALL his papers in his subsequent papers so in principle X = Y(Y-1)/2 thus X -Y can be significantly higher at any stage! LOL. And yes X-Y being significantly greater than zero will still not signify anything.

      Reply
  32. Anonymous2

     /  February 25, 2012

    see … http://telegraphindia.com/1120225/jsp/frontpage/story_15178293.jsp

    Dr. Ajay Sood is acting BLIND. If Dr. Sood (President, Indian Academy
    of Science, IAS, Bangalore) has gone through these two papers, let him explain
    to the readers about new results/ideas which are present in Dr. Rao’s paper and
    makes it worthy of publishing in Advanced Material Journal after one year of
    Ghosh et. al. paper. I am also critical of the decision taken by Editorial office
    in this case, even after noting overlaps between two papers. {Sorry to know
    sycophancy and scratching each other’s back may not be the sole-property of
    Indians}
    By trying to paint this as a minor issue of copying few lines here and
    there (which is WRONG), Dr. Sood is unethically protecting Dr. Rao and
    lending credibility by putting the weight of IAS behind Dr. Rao, which
    is highly unacceptable to the Fellows of the Academy and should be condemned.
    I am also eagerly waiting to see which other “conscious” scientists jump
    into this denial bandwagon, as a payback/expected favors to them by
    The Grand Master of the Indian Science.
    In the case of Mr. RA Mashelkar (former DG CSIR), did IAS-Bangalore
    took any action? Anyway, now for Dr. CNR Rao and Dr. Krupanidhi what
    action will be taken? Students involved may be punished, that is an easy job!
    Blame them for misleading senior scientists, finally, Dr. CNR Rao and
    Dr. Krupanidhi should own-up the major responsibility as corresponding
    authors.

    Reply
  33. rajkamal

     /  February 25, 2012

    @buddy doesnt matter how many times he is cited in 1 paper. as long as he is cited once you count it in X. it is a good measure of if a paper is related to is research interests.
    Y will just indicate if he is cornering every JNCASR/IISc guy even remotely interested in his field and hustling co-authorship

    Everyone else:
    There are 2 issues here:
    1. Is the great man hustling co-authorship when he does not deserve it?
    This crystal growing story is just a non sequitur and nobody knows what the true story is. If he has indeed not contributed but is co-author, the parties involved must have sworn silence and enjoyed the fruits of it. Since its hard to know the truth from actors involved, I suggested the X and Y thing.

    2. Is he right to rat on the PhD student?
    If he has contributed to the research and deserves co-authorship, then he is ABSOLUTELY right.
    You can’t expect someone who is reading a manuscript to catch plagiarism like that. And the first author is no naive kid – he is a senior PhD student with many more publications (some with plagiarism) who will soon be a faculty member with his own PhD students. And he is in India’s premier research institute that regularly takes out press releases claiming it is on par with the best in the world. If not today, he would have been a professor at some prestigious place doing the same thing.

    When you play international cricket and get no-balled for chucking, there is no point saying you did not know that bending your arm was chucking. When you are arrested for a Ponzi scheme, try telling the judge that you did not know such a thing was fraud.

    Last I heard, 18 year old pace sensation Mohammed Amir is facing a career threatening ban for willfully bowling a no-ball that did not change a match’s outcome (spot fixing: a crime comparable to the literature review plagiary).

    There’s no point blaming the system too. Ignorance is NOT an excuse.

    There is a bigger symptom here. In Indian academia, NOBODY cares about the student. Its all about faculty recruitment, grants, housing and such issues. Its ALWAYS about hiring quality faculty, not quality students. Look at the blogs of Profs Abi, Giridhar, Rahul and Sunil Mukhi. Do ANY of their posts betray even an iota of interest in the problem of attracting quality students? You hear about new IITs, IISERs and what not, but the angle is always about attracting faculty, setting up labs, getting research grants, etc

    Over time, students get the message and quality of students drops. This is just a symptom of that malaise. That is the true problem.

    Reply
  34. vishuguttal

     /  February 26, 2012

    @Rahul

    “You can imagine someone choosing to keep their software proprietary and distributing it only on the condition that authorship is given”

    Something like this happened on a project we were working on when we contacted a person who had a relevant code from his earlier publication. Given the amount of effort we had put in, we decided that we may as well work for two more months to get to write to code ourselves. We were able to do in this case, but that is not always possible given the complexity of the code, and the amount of time one may have invested in the code.

    Another common practice I am aware of is that if a person X generates a data set D (of some animals or forests), anyone who uses it for any kind of work will have to have X as a coauthor. Of course, some people go ahead and put the data on open archives, but that is rare and even if they do, it is much after their best ideas as exhausted. If you really think of forests, that guy may have spent a good part of his/her life getting that data collected. So expecting coauthorship is quite common. But without an intellectual contribution, is it still okay to be a coauthor? I wonder if it is the difference in theory vs. empirical work. For many of us trained in theory, it may be hard to see the logic of accepting coauthorship that way. But when I talk to empirical people, many naturally say coauthorship is an obvious thing.

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  February 26, 2012

      Vishu – thanks, I haven’t experienced that myself but somehow I’m not surprised. I don’t really agree that just because you spent a lot of effort collecting data you are entitled to perpetual authorship. As someone remarked above, that’s what citations are for. These days (as you’d know, but others here may not), sequence data, annotations etc must be submitted to databases like GenBank before journals will accept manuscripts, and the understanding is that once your paper is published, anyone may cite your data; and many organisations make even their unpublished data available for use, with very few and very reasonable restrictions (basically, your use shouldn’t end up scooping the original guys’ paper — so no large-scale genomic analysis, etc). I think other fields need to make similar norms where data are concerned.

      Reply
  35. Pramod

     /  February 26, 2012

    I’m not sure I agree with any of what rajkamal says, but buried in that wall of text is an interesting thought – that indian educational institutions aren’t doing their best to recruit high-quality graduate students. I will confess to having somewhat similar views myself.

    Rahul, since you’ve been on both sides on the indian system as a student and as a professor, I’m interested in your views on this. Perhaps this might be interesting blog fodder?

    Reply
  36. Ajit R. Jadhav

     /  February 26, 2012

    First of all, let me note that both Abi and Rahul were nice enough to get in touch with me and share the papers.

    I now feel somewhat similar to what Rahul has said above. When the verbatim reproduction was thought to be limited to just one paper, and only to the introduction part, it was easy enough to overlook the matter. In fact, at that stage, in a way, I could empathize even with the student. Here is why:

    A lot of us are good in expressing themselves in a concise manner. However, there still are a lot of others who do lack that ability. I belong to the second group. I usually have no problem expressing myself accurately enough, but the writing (or the expression) tends to get lengthy, sometimes boringly lengthy for the reader (or listener). I can get by in the everyday communications.

    However, when it comes to writing a paper (or report etc.), if the matter has to be fitted within the space constraints of a paper (or even otherwise if it would be desirable to be concise), I sometimes look and relook at how someone else has written it. That is purely because I don’t naturally know how to write in brief. The motivation in looking up others’ writing oftentimes is plain to have an example of a piece of terse writing expressing the same thought. However, such reading can and does influence you.

    Or, in the process of writing and re-writing, there does come a point where everything you write seems not as good as a concise expression given to the same thought by someone else.

    In either case, esp. the latter, a whole string of phrases—not just words—get employed by you “as is.”

    Now, is such a reuse, that careless sort of a copy-paste operation? No, it is not that! Can you call it plagiarizing? No, of course not, again! After all, plagiarization is a term that has a certain moral offensiveness implied. But where is any ulterior bad motive in the above kind of a reuse or marked similarity? Yes, you could call it incompetence (with language/writing). But you cannot really call it stealing. And yet, to an onlooker, it might look like that.

    A lot of us in India don’t have a very good command over English, and that does significantly add to the trouble I mentioned above. I, therefore, thought I could empathize with the student.

    One solution I have found is to be explicit about giving credit. Say it directly: “We follow XYZ’s treatment here,” and feel free to reuse the concise expressions given to the thought you are trying to express, by XYZ. I often times cannot do any better, and so, I follow this practise. So, I thought this case was something similar.

    However, as further evidence began coming up, I now am no longer sure what to think of it. I will need time to think over the matter.

    I therefore have (at least for the time being) cancelled writing my post (that I had mentioned in my previous reply here, above). There was a time when I thought that the differences that copying has from plagiarization in the fields of arts (esp. literature) vs. those in science, needed a more in depth explanation, esp. by way of telling (if not educating) the _media_. I was planning to write my blog post in that spirit.

    Now, however, I realize that the main issues are different.

    Most every one (here and at other blogs/fora) now seems to be coming to agreeing (leaving aside their differences as to what term to use where) that at least in the case of the recentmost paper (i.e. Rao’s AM vis-a-vis Khondaker’s APL), it is not so much that the copying itself is offensive; the really important and offensive issues are the surrounding ones: (i) the carelessness of the senior authors, and (ii) what that, in turn, implies or reveals, and (iii) how the senior authors have responded to the situation. Here, I think, new points are still popping up—as also new pieces of evidence.

    In this regard, I don’t have much to add here, except to highlight, once again, the mad rush after the metrics (# of papers, # of citations, $ of research grants, etc.) and the unhealthy effect it has on science. And, the fact that the senior authors have not come out as being exemplary in any part of this controversy.

    Over to you all.

    Ajit
    [E&OE]

    Reply
  37. x1@mailinator.com

     /  February 26, 2012

    Exhibit 4: BC, S.B. Krupanidhi, C.N.R. Rao, Applied Physics Letters (2011) doi:10.1063/1.3640222

    This is also an instance of taking the original, and playing with the text (leaving out a bit here, replacing a word there) in a conscious, willful attempt to cover one’s tracks, making it even more pathetic. Also, note the one-to-one mapping of the citations (all except the last one).

    Here we go. From the first paragraph of BC, SBK, CNRR:

    “However, lower yield of this approach to produce high quality graphene and complications in device applications inhibit their applications in optoelectronics.14 In addition, large scale synthesis of graphene sheets is also advantageous for their applications in mechanically robust composites,15,16 transparent and electrically conductive films.17 Therefore, considerable amount of interest has been triggered in few-layer graphenes. To address this, graphene oxide (GO) has emerged as a cost effective precursor for bulk production of graphene based materials, wherein the basal plane carbon atoms are decorated with epoxide and hydroxyl groups and the edge atoms bear carbonyl and carboxyl groups.18–20 These functional groups impart hydrophilic character by reducing the interplane forces, ultimately helping in complete exfoliation of single GO layers in aqueous media. A large portion of oxygen containing functional groups can be removed by the strong chemical reducing agent hydrazine upon deoxygenation of GO.21,22”

    To be compared to (doi:10.1021/nl072090c) Cristina Gómez-Navarro, et al, Nano Letters (2007):

    “… However, the low yield of this approach (a few graphene monolayers per mm2 of substrate area), combined with the lack of methods that enable positioning of the sheets, severely limits the implementation of highly integrated graphene-based circuits. High-yield production methods for graphene sheets are also desirable for other applications like mechanically reinforced composites9,10 or transparent, electrically conductive films.11 A promising methodology is the chemical reduction of graphite oxide,9,12,13 wherein the basal plane carbon atoms are decorated with epoxide and hydroxyl groups and the edge atoms bear carbonyl and carboxyl groups.13-15 The presence of these functional groups reduces the interplane forces and imparts hydrophilic character, thereby promoting complete exfoliation of single graphene oxide (GO) layers in aqueous media. While no high-resolution microscopic data are available for GO, theoretical studies suggest that the oxygen-containing groups are clustered into rows and islands, resulting in graphitic regions intermixed with islands of oxygen-functionalized atoms.16 Deoxygenation of GO has been accomplished by the strong chemical reducing agent hydrazine, whereupon a significant fraction of the contained oxygen is removed.12,17 “

    Reply
  38. x1@mailinator.com

     /  February 26, 2012

    Exhibit 5: SVB, S.B. Krupanidhi, C.N.R. Rao, Applied Physics Express, 3 (2010) 11500

    A bonus, not just in number count, but also in that it has a new first author.

    First paragraph:

    “Commercially available crystalline Si solar cells, which dominate the photovoltaics market, typically possess power conversion efficiencies in the range of 10 – 20%. As potential routes to improve the performance of photovoltaic devices, there is considerable interest in light trapping and manipulation techniques such as antireflection coatings (ARCs), surface texturing, and increasing the optical path length for photovoltaic films. 1) [Snip, snip, snip] There are studies showing measurable photocurrent enhancement for silicon on insulator photodiode structures, 2,3) hydrogenated amorphous Si thin-film cells, 5,8) crystalline Si p–n photodiodes, 4,7) …”

    To be compared with: P. Matheu et al, Applied Physics Letters 93, 113108 (2008)

    “Commercially available crystalline Si solar cells, which currently dominate the photovoltaics market, typically possess power conversion efficiencies  in the range of 10–20%. 1,2 As potential routes to improving  in photovoltaic devices generally, and hence the economic viability of solar power systems, there is extensive interest in light trapping and manipulation techniques including antireflection coatings ARCs, surface texturing, increasing the optical
    path length for thin photovoltaic films, 1,2 and optical absorption enhancement via scattering from metallic or dielectric nanoparticles. 3–8 With respect to structures incorporating
    metal nanoparticles, several references have demonstrated measurable photocurrent enhancement for silicon-on insulator photodiode structures, 3,4 hydrogenated amorphous
    Si thin film cells, 5 and crystalline Si p-n photodiodes. 6–8”

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  February 26, 2012

      This is extremely interesting because (a) as you say, RC is not an author, (b) the first author is not affiliated with IISc but with the materials centre at JNC (according to the paper) and his thesis advisor is CNR (according to JNC’s website). So CNR certainly has some explaining to do.

      Reply
    • Prince

       /  February 26, 2012

      You can find only the student mistakes in all those papers. Nowhere an idea was stolen. All the works were novel. I didnt understand why you always pointing out Prof Rao’s name. This just an introduction part where you will refer some literatures. I dont know why you are this much interested collecting this kind of datas. I think you dont have any job or you should only this one has job.

      Reply
      • Rahul Siddharthan

         /  February 26, 2012

        Prince: several people have claimed that the Advanced Materials paper, that kicked off this controversy, is not novel and adds little to the Ghosh et al paper; I make some observations on that in the blogpost above. Do you have any comments on that, rather than make ad hominem attacks like “I think you don’t have any job”? Specifically, in what way was the Advanced Materials paper novel (sufficiently novel for a high-impact journal) and not just an incremental advance over the Ghosh et al paper? And why did they fail to compare their results with the earlier paper, despite clearly being aware of it?

        Please contribute to this thread only if you have possible answers to such questions that have been posed repeatedly, or else have important new information to share.

        Reply
    • Mahesh

       /  February 27, 2012

      @X1 your findings make it clear that this is not one off case; now defending
      CNR is harder. As indicated by Anonymous2 many more people will come out
      to save the situation for Prof. Rao. X1 is making their job difficult.

      Reply
  39. rajkamal

     /  February 26, 2012

    Friend says that JNCASR firewall seems to think this blog doesn’t exist. Classy

    Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  February 26, 2012

      from inside JNCASR campus
      There is no firewall.. i am able to read your comment sitting in JNC!!

      Refrain from spreading such RUMORS !!!

      Reply
  40. Prince

     /  February 26, 2012

    http://www.nature.com/news/indian-science-adviser-caught-up-in-plagiarism-row-1.10102

    The people who are thinking the act is plagiarism kindly read this article from nature magazine. Media people dont know what is science and the meaning of science. They will write whatever they want to promote the newspaper. This is just to defame Prof. C. N. R. Rao, who is eminent scientist because of whom the education system in India has been developed. The people who wrote bad about him has think about this. The problem with humans is they dont like others development. They cant work hard to get good name and fame just they spoil others name and fame so they will come up. I feeling pity for those kind of people.

    Reply
    • Pramod

       /  February 26, 2012

      @Prince: please stop being condescending and attributing malicious intentions to the actions of others.

      Reply
  41. suresh

     /  February 27, 2012

    A lot of us in India don’t have a very good command over English, and that does significantly add to the trouble I mentioned above.

    Ajit,

    It is worth remembering that this applies to the entire non-English speaking world. In many cases, the problem outside India is worse because, unlike us, they study in their native language (Russian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Arabic….) even at the university level. It is only when it comes to the PhD that matters change because most research papers are written in English. And of course, everyone nowadays has to write their research papers and present at conferences in English, like it or not. (Thirty or more years back, important scientific papers were still written in languages like French or German or Russian. This is no longer the case.)

    Plagiarism, of course, respects no nationalities and we can find examples everywhere. However, if it is poor English skills that is responsible, then we should find similar stories all over the non-English world. That does not appear to be the case… The closest example of a country facing a situation like us is possibly China.

    I am therefore inclined to downplay the “poor English” explanation and play up the “poor training” one. Of course, we can all agree that we should train our students in ethics much, much better. But I wonder…How can people with poor ethics train students in ethics? I have heard too many stories about senior people forcing students and junior faculty to include them as co-authors to write them off as rumours and nothing else. So while I think better ethics training will make some difference, I am not sure that it will solve the problem entirely.

    I have to confess that I am somewhat disheartened at this entire story and what it says about the state of Indian academia. It makes me appreciate those few that I know who fight to maintain standards even more.

    Reply
  42. suresh

     /  February 27, 2012

    I am sorry for following-up my own post but on thinking about it, Ajit does have a point. However, the problem is not exactly the poor English language skills, it is that our students often are unable to express themselves well in any language.

    Madhu Kishwar has analyzed this issue in article Destroying Minds and Skills: The dominance of Angreziyat in our education. You can find the article here· This extract is relevant:

    Most of us Indians sound mentally retarded when we propound our ideas in English. We are today becoming a nation of linguistic cripples which is an important reason why the work calibre of our professionals is so shoddy. A person who cannot handle any language competently is unlikely to be able to handle concepts or ideas required to think things through. Most of even our MBBS doctors are so poorly equipped in English that they can not possibly follow the latest medical information already available in international journals even if they are inclined to access it. Therefore, too many of them practise quackery after having procured medical degrees of doubtful worth.

    Perhaps the reason why say Israelis or Dutch (to take two nationalities at random) don’t have the problem that we face is that their education at least gives them the capacity to express themselves well in their own language. When they shift to writing in English, their usage initially may reflect the fact that they are sort of “translating” from their mother tongue but at least, it will be original. When you can’t express yourself in any language, you have a problem which may lead you the plagiarism route. This, perhaps, can be corrected by language and ethics training but the problem that arises when teachers themselves practice poor ethics remains.

    Reply
  43. Ajit R. Jadhav

     /  February 27, 2012

    Suresh,

    (A)
    No, I don’t think I agree with what Kishwar has said in the cited paragraph.

    Most of us Indians don’t sound retarded when they express themselves—they sound puppet-like (esp. if the author has an MBA or IAS or works in the IT sector). Or, they sound “bhaTji”-like (esp. if coming off the ranks of BJP/RSS). Or, parrot-like (a very generally applicable term). Retards are different. Though, for example, Dr. Atanu Dey loves to call Indians retards, I think he is very certainly mistaken in this judgement of his.

    And, I doubt that most [sic] of our MBBS graduates cannot follow the latest information [sic] in medical journals because their English is bad. That’s stretching her case too far (though it does have certain merits). I think that a more accurate statement would be that if an MBBS graduate cannot follow an article in medical journal, it is primarily because the state of knowledge that he carries is not sufficiently comprehensive, in-depth, and as inclusive of the latest developments in the field, as would be required to place the contents of those articles in context. At the first-degree level, the experience would be the same regardless of the discipline. Most MSc (or 4-year BS) physics guys wouldn’t be able to follow even 25% of arXiv articles belonging to their own interest/project specialization area. Language skills don’t have as much to do with this phenomenon as Kishwar seems to think.

    (B)
    Now, Suresh, coming to what you said regarding different countries.

    Suresh, I think, as many others on this thread, you are smart! … I mean, I was about to say that one reason why the likes of Germans, French and Italians aren’t found out as easily as Chinese and Indians are, is because as industrialized nations with a longer and stronger history of the Enlightenment ideas influencing them, they have good journals available in their own languages. And, just when I was about to say that, you point out the Israeli’s and the Dutch to me. [My first reaction was to decide on permanently quitting replying on this thread. However, once the moment had passed, I could notice that Ms. Kishwar had already come in as a Godsend.]

    (C)
    As to the senior faculty forcing the junior faculty and students to include them as co-author. Yes, it happens very regularly in India. It also happens very regularly in the USA. And, I know of specific (and prominent) examples from both the countries—at the immediate second hand, though not at the first hand. And, the fact that the USA has to be included in this list, makes me think that it very probably happens everywhere.

    The point is: how do you catch them? Given the layers of protection, they more more slippery than the eel.

    Given the fact that science today is almost fully government-controlled (directly or indirectly) in both the countries, the only time any such a thing could possibly come out in the open is: when a relatively more powerful party decides to expose a relatively less powerful party.

    Thus, it can happen, for example, when an HoD exposes the unchecked plagiarization or other actual weakness of a PhD student in a seminar if that student works in the group of (a _junior_ party) who belongs to a camp that is opposed to this HoD (a _senior_ party). Given the top-down bureaucratic control of power, it cannot happen very easily the other way around.

    Similarly, it can happen when someone in a more powerful country decides to use such an exposition of someone from a less powerful country, possibly as a tool in negotiations for some or the other deal desired to be forged with that less powerful country.

    The “exposition” can happen only under such circumstances—given the government control of science.

    Of course, this is not a binary thing; there are degrees and nuances and layers, and their are some minor qualifications and some inspired exceptions. However, the principle is obvious.

    Ajit
    [E&OE]

    Reply
  44. vijaya

     /  February 29, 2012

    hi
    i just want to make a point that a person like CNR stature is involved in this… can you guys think of how the normal national and so called international conferences in INDIA are held. its not one or two lines the whole text is someone else. unless this pressure of no of papers to establish your authority on a subject is removed , the education system cant be reformed.

    Reply
  45. rajkamal

     /  March 1, 2012

    right now plagiarism is easy to catch. what guarantee is there that the data/results presented in many papers is genuine?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  March 2, 2012

      there is much better guarantee about a peer-reviewed journal research paper being genuine than your real identity being rajkamal.

      Reply
      • rajkamal

         /  March 2, 2012

        of course it isn’t. but then again i don’t look for career advancements, research funding and a nobel prize based on my online comments

        Reply
        • TH_Hex_Lee

           /  March 3, 2012

          Good that we agree.

          Now, why would you want to say, “What guarantee is there that the data/results presented in many papers is genuine?”

          Why this kolaveri to malign?

          “The absence of evidence should not be construed as evidence of absence” — Applies to all. In that way, we (those who publish) are all guilty unless proven otherwise. See how your premise leads to a situation of collective guilt and stasis?

          P.S.: Aspiring for “career advancements, research funding and a nobel prize based on original research” is something I wish all Indian researchers (NRIs are excluded in my definition of Indians) inculcate. There is nothing adharmic about it.

          Reply
  46. rajkamal

     /  March 3, 2012

    my point is: this is like the story of the boy who cried wolf.
    as x1 shows, there is an indisputable trail of transgression of ethics. now i think every work of parties involved should be subjected to the highest scrutiny possible.
    someone unaware of certain ethics is also likely to be unaware of some other research ethics

    besides, the point about nobel glory and research funds was in reply to your comment about my fake identity. for very obvious reasons i do not want to reveal it, though i have commented here using my real identity on other threads before

    Reply
    • TH_Hex_Lee

       /  March 3, 2012

      “as x1 shows, there is an indisputable trail of transgression of ethics.”

      Are you sure, you want to use the word “trail”? I do not know if you are an academic, but assuming that you are one, can you go on a treasure hunt on this “trail” and let us know if you find any more. Or, has the trail hit a dead end?

      Also, while you are at it, can you please find out, based on the “Exhibits of x1”, what the common factor(s) is/are? btw, I have. It is the Dharmic way that one finds the truth oneself; hence, I may not be able to share what I found (which is what I had surmised too).

      “now i think every work of parties involved should be subjected to the highest scrutiny possible.”

      Please go ahead and do the honours. However, I would suggest that you do it as a Judge would, i.e., dispassionately. So, saying things like:
      “what guarantee is there that the data/results presented in many papers is genuine?”

      may polarize your thoughts and might lead you to see ghosts where none exists. I am not disputing what “x1” found. While one should not live in denial, one should not also theorize/postulate about these matters. It involves honor of real people, some of whom have made many many original contributions in science. So, please think about it. Thanks.

      “besides, the point about nobel glory and research funds was in reply to your comment about my fake identity. for very obvious reasons i do not want to reveal it, though i have commented here using my real identity on other threads before”

      I was pointing towards the anonymity offered on the internet. I do not know if your assumed identity is fake or not. I do not care about it. However, in contrast to real authors of research papers, your (and mine too, here) identity isn’t verified. That’s all.

      Shall we say, “Peace”? Om Shanti!

      Reply
      • rajkamal

         /  March 4, 2012

        Have I hit a raw nerve somewhere?

        Reply
      • rajkamal

         /  March 4, 2012

        look, i have no intention in getting into a war of words. i will give you the reason why i made my comments. i was once a grad student at an IIX and in a project report used (and cited) some constants published in a respectable peer-reviewed journal by authors from an indian university (not elite research institute/IIX). my advisor very irrationally told me not to use those values because the work is from an indian university and that he considered it “unreliable”

        scientists are very human and bad halo effects are not easy to get rid of. there has been an alarming number of malpractice cases involving indians (just visit the retraction watch website and you will see). if cases are not severely dealt with here, it is very easy for honest researchers (hopefully a vast majority) to be tainted with the same brush and have their work systematically ignored by prospective citers.

        remember, jncasr and iisc are the elite of indian elite institutions

        Reply
  47. Sanjay – Banglore
    This is not a mere plagiarism or an accidental mistake. The authors of the AM paper literally copied the concepts and ideas from the APL paper.

    REST OF THIS COMMENT DELETED. Please do not make personal attacks, or claims of wrongdoing without evidence. – Rahul

    Reply
  48. Rahul Siddharthan

     /  March 3, 2012

    All – While I don’t want to close this discussion, I request you to comment only if you have something new to contribute (with evidence, if it is an allegation). Personal attacks and unfounded claims will be deleted.

    At this point, my opinion is that the last example of x1 above — the Applied Physics Express paper — exactly mirrors the apologised-for Advanced Materials paper, but is more worrisome in that (a) the plagiarism is more extensive, including even a part of the abstract; (b) there are three authors, of which the first author is Rao’s own student, Krupanidhi is the middle author, and the senior author is Rao — so Rao really can’t pass the responsibility on this one; (c) as with the Ghosh et al paper, the plagiarism seems not only literal, but possibly extends to ideas — similar material, similar experiments, with the only difference that the original authors study gold and dielectric nanoparticles, while Rao and co study gold and metallic ReO3 nanoparticles; (d) they entirely fail to cite the paper they plagiarised from.

    I think Rao needs to answer to this one — much more so than with the Ghosh et al paper. Moreover, if — as it appears — these papers are a part of a pattern, further investigation is needed.

    Reply
  49. You can delete the truth but not the bad karma.
    They are talking about throwing out Madhavan Nair tike a garbage.
    They did the same thing for many good scientists in India.
    Muraly Sastry is a typical example. Poor fellow put their
    name on some of his publications without any contributions
    to get favors in return(this is not plagiarism?). and eventually become
    a victim.
    Sastry, Murali ; Rao, Mala ; Ganesh, Krishna N. (2002) Electrostatic assembly of nanoparticles and biomacromolecules Accounts of Chemical Research, 35 (10). pp. 847-855. ISSN 0001-4842

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  March 4, 2012

      You made personal remarks about Rao’s family. Go and do that on your own blog, under your real name — not here. And if you have accusations about academic misconduct, be specific: don’t throw vague accusations about. What is your point about the paper you cite?

      Reply
      • Roba

         /  March 9, 2012

        Hi Rahul, can I say here that you tried to get your name included in some papers only to get your promotion without your contribution?

        I don’t see any difference between what the previous comment says’….
        “Poor fellow put their name on some of his publications without any contributions
        to get favors in return(this is not plagiarism?). and eventually become
        a victim.
        Sastry, Murali ; Rao, Mala ; Ganesh, Krishna N. (2002) Electrostatic assembly of nanoparticles and biomacromolecules Accounts of Chemical Research, 35 (10). pp. 847-855. ISSN 0001-4842”

        If you allow such loose statements here, I can also leave my statement that your contributions in your publications are doubtful.

        Reply
        • That comment was not posted by me and (like many other comments here) not something I agree with. Similarly I am leaving your comment up, with all your other comments. I think there is a good reason you do not use your real name.

          Reply
  50. I am sorry if I have made personal remarks about Rao’s family. But this happened because he mixed his family with politics. There is an old saying, he will do anything to publish papers. He discussed about it in his book, it is a virus, but as he claims it is not a good virus, it is the bad virus that is destroying Indian science for the last six decades.

    My point about the above paper is, Rao and his gang (too many of them!) accept authorships in papers without any contributions. That is the reason this type of incidents are happening in the first place. After few years they throw them out (like a garbage!).

    The current incident is nothing compared to the damages done by Rao et al. to Indian science. He filled Indian science with people like him. He destroyed IISC, created JNCASR
    to continue his research after retirement, He created IISER to make ( you know who) as the director.

    Also he destroyed several truly talented scientists in India. Professor G. N. Ramachandran is an example; he could not get Nobel Prize because there was no financial support for him from the government, at the same time there was money available for Rao et al. to do the polywater research!

    I am also curious to know more about a PhD student who died during his IITK tenure. I heard some rumors about it. If anyone has any leads, that will be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Roba

       /  March 9, 2012

      Why you joined any investigating agency or a tabloid. Are you not able to understand science? What is the problem in IISc, JNCASR or IISER?. They are doing fine. Do you mean to say Raman got the Nobel Prize because he got financial support from Government. Have some sense in your writing. Do you want to see the money given to many national institutes where Prof. Rao is not having any control on that? Do you want to compare the output of those institutes with the institutes Prof. Rao has created. You are the guy want to write a story from the rumors. Better change your profession if you are in science. Your IQ is outstandingly high which will lead to fabrication..

      Reply
  51. Pradeep

     /  March 5, 2012

    CNR Rao is a great great scientist,even greater than Einstein or Pauling. The political situation in India is hampering his growth. We all should be proud of him and worship him rather than criticizing him. He is an avatar of Vishnu, who came to save the Indian science from the west. His whole life and his family is sacrificed for the sake of science. His son-in-law is doing outstanding work in the new institute. I don’t know any family in the world, which is so devoted to science. We all should do namaskar to his holy feet. I hope he can forgive us for this plagiarism drama and will continue the great work to save the science in India..
    We should have a statue of him in front of all the research institutes in India. All the chemistry labs should have a photo of him and people should worship him every day before starting their work. Right now, only very few people are doing this.SS bhatnagar award should be renamed as CNR Rao award. The streets in front of the research institutes should be named as CNR Rao street. I think even then we will still be indebted to him.

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  March 5, 2012

      Hush. Don’t go giving people such ideas. IISc already set a precedent, by getting the government to rename the circle at the main gate after him, just a couple of years after he retired as director.

      Reply
  52. albert pinto

     /  March 5, 2012

    I have been following this blog for sometime now and what I see that some other instances are cropping up one by one. I feel before digging any further it would be better to bring back the focus on the Advanced Materials (AM) paper by Rao et al. which started it all and the Applied Physics Letter (APL) by Ghosh et al., from which allegedly the “4 sentences” have been lifted. Somehow I have found that those who have been defending Rao (including Rao and Krupanidhi) have over and over again insisted that only “4 sentences” have been lifted from the introduction from Ghosh et al.’s paper. Even one of the venerable physicists of India, Prof. Ajay Sood has gone to the extent of absolving Rao and company from any wrongdoings other than lifting certain sentences from certain papers. Link: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120225/jsp/frontpage/story_15178293.jsp
    Though one can go on and on discussing whether this constitutes a serious case of plagiarism, it is more important to read both the papers and compare the actual content. Then it strikes one as a much deeper case of plagiarism than it is being portrayed in the media by and large. In the Nature article K.S. Jayraman does discuss very briefly the content of the Rao paper: “explored the use of reduced graphene oxide and graphene nanoribbons as infrared photo detectors…” the link for this article: http://www.nature.com/news/indian-science-adviser-caught-up-in-plagiarism-row-1.10102
    Earlier a news item had appeared in Nature India projecting the AM paper as the first work on using thin film Reduced Graphene Oxide as Infrared photodetector.
    However, you would find not for once Mr. Jayraman brings up the content of the communication of Ghosh and co-workers in APL. It can be a case of myopic journalism, or may be there is a certain motive behind it. What is more troubling that all the scientists interviewed have not for once discussed the content of the APL paper. The utter lack of objectivity on the part of those scientists and the dearth of effort on the front of journalists have led to this omission. The title of the AM paper is “Position dependent photodetector from large area reduced graphene oxide
    thin films”
    and strikingly the abstract of the original APL paper runs as: “We fabricated large area infrared photodetector devices from thin film of chemically reduced graphene oxide (RGO) sheets and studied their photoresponse as a function of laser position…..” One can access the APL paper in condensed matter archive:
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1002/1002.3191.pdf

    I would encourage all of those who are reading this blog to read the both the AM and APL paper. In my opinion one would easily realize that the extent of plagiarism runs much deeper than projected in the media and the AM paper is certainly bereft of any novelty. A thorough reading reveals how the AM paper is basically a mere reproduction of the work communicated in the APL paper. Both the papers report the use of RGO thin films as IR photo detectors, and display graphs of photocurrent versus time. The AM paper only uses graphene nano ribbons additionally but it turns out their photo-response is not as good as RGO. Even the AM paper uses the same cartoon as the APL paper to describe the experimental work (with a little bit of tweaking). It becomes instantly clear if Rao et al. would have cited the APL paper in the right context (because they never mention that RGO has been used for IR photo detection by Ghosh and co-workers) they would not have been able to get it accepted in AM. Also one must appreciate the fact AM has an impact factor of 11 as compared to 3.7 for APL.
    If you differ with my view please give your reasons objectively after reading the papers. I don’t exactly come from a materials chemistry background, but from physical chemistry. However, I don’t find any of these papers to be incomprehensible in anyway and the similarity is certainly astonishing. This case certainly warrants further investigation.
    This incident brings up a much bigger question. It certainly challenges the sanctity of the Indian scientific community and reeks of the ethical corruption which has pervaded all rank and file in this subcontinent. Unfortunately we find revered scientists like Prof. Sood has put his reputation to stake by disingenuously claiming “there is no other similarity”

    Reply
    • Subba

       /  March 7, 2012

      Please post the AM paper also. Thanks.

      Reply
    • rajkamal

       /  March 8, 2012

      i am glad that these guys have committed textual plagiary and that’s why their misdeeds have hit the spotlight. as pinto rightly points out, plagiary of ideas is extremely difficult to prove. who knows the countless number of scientists whose ideas have been stolen by unscrupulous people like this?

      Reply
    • Roba

       /  March 8, 2012

      A paper is relevant to the particular journal or not is upto the publishers and reviewer to decide. I don’t think that any one asked you to do this job. If you have any issue you can write to the publisher they may be able to tell you better. If you have to compare the similarity of two papers , you can pull out thousands of papers from any area. It is a subjective topic. Even in graphene you can tell what is the big deal of using same graphene for different applications? Why the journals are publishing the papers at all in graphene. What you would be working/publishing will also have many similarities or the continuation or some level of increment of someone’s work(otherwise you should have been popular to create a new field by this time!) and is worth of throwing it to the dust bin. Anyone can comment in the same way about anyone’s work and there is no limit to it. Better have some control in your writeup and don’t use this as a platform to express your personal grudges.

      In this case, it is clear that Prof. Rao associated with the another well-known Prof. Krupanidhi to use the graphene/RGO for some device applications. Prof. Krupanidhi is a known expert in device fabrication. Prof. Rao’s student who has synthesized and characterized the material would have associated with the lab to study the device application part. In such cases, this kind of mistakes are bound to happen. How can you expect if a student/researcher comes up with a writeup which is taken(knowingly or unknowingly) from some other article or not. Every week, thousands of lines appear in the introduction and how do you monitor all these things. The experimental data one can analyze and see the logic and check their reproducibility. Introduction part we have to leave it to the student’s/researcher’s conscience if you want to ask the student/researcher to putup all the data and prepare the first draft(if you want to train him to write a paper). If the mistake is not intentional there is no point in discussing it again and again and we have to find the ways to avoid these kind of mistakes in future. It can happen to anyone who do research(rather than finding fault in other’s work).

      This is a small matter which is being discussed out of proportion. No other scientific journal or other famous scientists in the world are really bothered about this issue. Only few infamous guys in India(without anywork, may be now they have found one) are raving and renting here in a disproportionate way . This blog is being used as a platform to hurl abuses on someone’s performance or being used as a conduit to vent the anger of some depressed souls who lost their hopes in their career. Otherwise, this issue would have been discussed in a constructive way and throw some solutions to avoid this type of problems in future. It is disgusting to see such disparaging comments displayed here in a disguised manner.

      Reply
      • Rahul Siddharthan

         /  March 9, 2012

        Roba — if you are bothered with “comments displayed here in a disguised manner”, you should un-disguise yourself first. Who are you?

        Reply
  53. rajkamal

     /  March 6, 2012

    as the joke goes…
    I cannot be GNR so I will try to be CNR

    Reply
  54. My work here is done. The real problem is exposed. You don’t want to work hard and take the road less travelled (in his book Rao is claiming he took the road less travelled!!!!). But you want to follow someone who is incredibly successful, you don’t care if he had achieved everything by destroying the truly talented people around him. I can’t blame you, because that is the true picture of science in India. Go ahead and worship him, exploit the students, publish thousands of papers by copying and reformatting, without doing any experiments, take home the project money or the canteen contract money, represent India in conferences, please the corrupted politicians, grab all the awards, make sure people like GNR will die in depression. I hope the next generation can forgive you and his other followers.

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  March 6, 2012

      Who are you talking to? If me, I think you have issues with reading comprehension.

      Reply
    • Roba

       /  March 8, 2012

      I think you are completely using this forum to spew venom against one person you do not like. I do not know whether this blog is encouraging these kind of nonsense writeup ?

      Reply
  55. Sivasankar Chander

     /  March 6, 2012

    Just FYI: Saritha Rai’s article in the Indian Express is the most accurate so far, although she gets the name of the journal wrong: it’s actually Advanced Materials:

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/credit-where-credit-is-due/920066/0

    Reply
  56. DAVID

     /  March 9, 2012

    Rahul..I have been following your efforts to tarnish CNR RAo’s image through your blog.. Why don’t you understand that these are just 5 papers out of his 1500 and more importantly there is another senior professor who is common in all these papers? Being a scientist who collaborates a LOT, you will definitely understand that CNR has collaborated for this research with another scientist. Normally the student who is the first author of the manuscripts writes the manuscript ( I hope in your group you also follow this trend) and it is not possible at all to check manually whether one or two sentences are copied by the student. Why don’t you ever analyze this whole issue from that angle? After reading your comments, I seriously doubt that you have some personal vengeance in this case.

    Reply
  57. Roba

     /  March 9, 2012

    Jokers will think so.

    Reply
  58. Roba

     /  March 9, 2012

    David I agree with you. Jokers will think that they can be in the limelight by accusing some famous person.

    Reply
  59. Dr.D.K.Samuel

     /  March 9, 2012

    Many a senior in India attaches his name to the paper (in some cases without even reading) (Not in this instance surely). But the junior voiceless person has to take all the blame, but give all the credit. Hopefully these instances will make the senior authors read the papers before they sign. Let the concept of working hands with planning brain (on different bodies) die soon in India

    Reply
  60. Roba

     /  March 9, 2012

    Hi, you guys go and do some science and become famous. Don’t try to become famous by finding fault in others work who has contributed enormously to science. There are scientific forums to deal these issues. Don’t take it to the popular media and confuse them without having any understanding(what is ReO and what is silica?) about the subject and talk nonsense. Do some constructive work if possible. Are you want to be popular by attacking and defaming others. I think you are having some identity crisis. I am pity on you guys.

    Reply
  61. Jyotsna

     /  March 9, 2012

    Many cases of plagiarism, unlike the one under discussion here are, I suspect, internal to an organisation. In such cases, it is usually the powerful ones who plagiarise, often from those lower down in the hierarchy. In such a position, the wronged person, upon whom falls the onus of proving it, is in an impossible situation particularly when ideas are plagiarised. These cases therefore never come to light, and may well be very frequent.

    A regulatory board is definitely needed. However, one cannot help but wonder who
    will be on such a board. Hopefully they will be people who uphold high ethical standards.
    But, even if they have clean records, will they stand up to someone powerful should the need arise?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  March 9, 2012

      and may be, all scientists must be selected through an Indian Scientific Service?

      I guess many of you must be Lokpal supporters.

      Reply
  62. TH_Hex_Lee

     /  March 9, 2012

    Rahul,
    You say:
    “At this point, my opinion is that the last example of x1 above — the Applied Physics Express paper — exactly mirrors the apologised-for Advanced Materials paper, but is more worrisome in that (a) the plagiarism is more extensive, including even a part of the abstract; (b) there are three authors, of which the first author is Rao’s own student, Krupanidhi is the middle author, and the senior author is Rao — so Rao really can’t pass the responsibility on this one; (c) as with the Ghosh et al paper, the plagiarism seems not only literal, but possibly extends to ideas — similar material, similar experiments, with the only difference that the original authors study gold and dielectric nanoparticles, while Rao and co study gold and metallic ReO3 nanoparticles; (d) they entirely fail to cite the paper they plagiarised from.”

    How I wished that with all the time you have and the might you command, you had done DUE DILIGENCE?

    May I ask you: Did you check the references of the Applied Physics Express paper?
    x1 says that the APEX paper has sentences similar to/verbatim of Matheu et al, APL, 93, 113108 (2008).

    Rahul: Please check the APEX paper and Reference 7 therein. Btw, I do not know if your theoretically oriented, liberally funded DAE institution has access to this highly experimentally oriented journal. If it does not, seek my help.

    Oh, btw, Refs. 5 and 6 are papers from the same group of authors as Ref. 7.
    So, contrary to your claim #(d), SVB, SBK and CNRR cite the paper they “plagiarised” from, and do much more!

    Yours truly,
    TH_Hex_Lee

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  March 9, 2012

      You are right: they do cite reference 7. It was an error I should not have made, and have put an erratum on the relevant blogpost here, as well as a comment on The Hindu’s site (which should appear after moderation).

      I still disagree that the reference is adequate. Other than introductory references, it is only with reference to the I_sc curve for gold nanoparticles, and there is more commonality than that — it is extraordinary that nearly half the abstract is a cut-paste.

      I will also point out that in the paper that plagiarises Istkos et al, again, there is substantial commonality and there is indeed no reference (this time I double-checked.) So my point, of lack of citation or inadequate citation despite knowledge of a relevant publication, remains.

      Reply
      • TH_Hex_Lee

         /  March 9, 2012

        OK. I know that you are a honest individual. Hence, I will grant you the benefit of doubt, that you made a honest mistake (after all, to err is human) and that you were not out there to vilify CNRR.

        May I request you to grant the same to CNRR? Why is that ruled out? Why are you on a mode of inquisition? That too in a lay forum such as “The Chindu”? (not that people who comment on this blog site are any erudite, with honourable exceptions (not referrring to just myself)).

        As I asked some days ago, why did the “Exhibits of x1” dry up? You want my theory? It is because this/these was/were a one-off error (I am not as naive as your commentators, who brought up CNRR’s early quantum chemistry work on sp2 bonded water — it is after all a theoretical model; who knows it might be applicable to water wires in nanotubes or those in channels).

        Rahulji, Please think. Our nation is going through a difficult phase. It sure requires role models. This does not mean that plagiarism should be tolerated (my understanding of plagiarism has become a bit more nuanced, after this episode). But, it should not lead to public slaying and vilification, particularly of an illustrious son of India, CNRR. Various mechanisms exist within science itself to take care of these matters.

        I wish I had more time boss, to discuss with you. Let me see…

        TH_Hex_Lee

        Reply
        • Rahul Siddharthan

           /  March 9, 2012

          If you read my article in The Hindu — or even what I wrote here — I do not claim he should have spotted the plagiarism in introductory sentences. I claim that, having chosen to be senior author, he should take responsibility for the research and writing (not the plagiarism), and not pass the buck to his co-author. I also observe that the Ghosh et al paper was not adequately cited in the Advanced Materials paper (and this is certainly something he should have spotted). I make some observations about the Apex paper that are very similar to what occurred in the Adv Mat paper. I say, incorrectly, that he fails to cite Matheu et al, where I should have said he cites them inadequately. With that correction, do you disagree with what I wrote? And my point is that this forms a pattern: the same is true of the J Luminiscence paper which fails to cite the Istkos et al paper, despite plagiarising from it.

          I did not try to vilify and slay CNR, and all the feedback I have received outside of blog comments suggest that I have written a balanced article. Feel free to disagree with it on its merits.

          Reply
          • TH_Hex_Lee

             /  March 9, 2012

            In “The Chindu”, you write (sorry, that place is moderated and it takes quite a while for my comment to appear there; hence writing here):

            “Both papers deal with scattering from gold nanoparticles in silicon photovoltaic devices (in addition, Mathieu et al. consider dielectric silica nanoparticles, while the Rao paper considers metallic ReO nanoparticles); the figures in both papers deal with I-V characteristics and photocurrent response.”

            1> “The Chindu” does not have subscripts, I guess. I don’t know if you have attended any of Prof. Rao’s talks. The following words of his still resonate: “ReO_3 looks like copper, conducts like copper!”. (The surprise here is that an oxide shows good metallic behaviour). Why do I say this? To tell that Prof. Rao knows his oxides rather well, having slogged his way through them right from the sixties. And your last sentence (quoted above) in “The Chindu” seen in isolation may not sound like vilifiying. However, seen in the overall context of the Edit, it sure leads the lay reader of “The Chindu” to think that SVB, SBK and CNRR did not even think of any other novel way to characterise their photovoltaic device, but just copied (oops, “plagiarised”) even the experimental characterisation tools from Matheu et al. They are evil (and possibly dumb) thieves, you see….

            Please educate me, the naive workaholic that I am: How else would you characterise photovoltaic devices? (I am not even remotely connected to materials chemistry/physics; yet this much is obvious to me).

            2> I cannot comment on the responses you got. My idea is that our circles do not intersect.

            3> You say “And my point is that this forms a pattern:”
            Yes Boss, it is of course a pattern. But the pattern started two years ago and ends now. (in his 50+ years of research work). What does that tell you? Sorry, I cannot expand on this any further. Sorry again.

            I might be able to come back only on Monday, time permitting. So, logging off now.

            Have a nice weekend!
            Regards,
            TH_Hex_Lee

          • Rahul Siddharthan

             /  March 9, 2012

            The following words of his still resonate: “ReO_3 looks like copper, conducts like copper!”. (The surprise here is that an oxide shows good metallic behaviour). Why do I say this? To tell that Prof. Rao knows his oxides rather well, having slogged his way through them right from the sixties.

            Yes, it’s an extraordinary fact. Coincidentally, it seems to have been discovered in the sixties, though not by Rao.

            Please educate me, the naive workaholic that I am: How else would you characterise photovoltaic devices? (I am not even remotely connected to materials chemistry/physics; yet this much is obvious to me).

            (Parenthetically, your disclaimer would be more convincing if you identified yourself.) I agree, those are the ways you would characterise them. But they only refer to the previous authors for the Isc response. This, you will no doubt argue, is because Matheu et al don’t measure the photocurrent. However, they say clearly that this was previously published by Lim et al (same group), 2007. Rao and colleagues don’t refer to that, or to anything else.

            My idea is that our circles do not intersect.

            And, of course, I can’t comment on that until I know who you are and what your circles are. Suffice it to say that my circles intersect with IISc circles.

            Yes Boss, it is of course a pattern. But the pattern started two years ago and ends now. (in his 50+ years of research work). What does that tell you?

            Again, if you read my Hindu article, I say that this does not invalidate his 1500+ research papers.

        • blorean

           /  March 9, 2012

          Vilification, eh ? Who’s using repeatedly the term “Chindu” ? I thought one could judge the value of the contents independent of the medium where it appears in. The phrase “Maligning the messenger” comes to mind.

          Reply
        • Mahesh

           /  March 9, 2012

          @ TH_Hex_Lee,
          Main difference is Dr Rahul gladly accepted his error; but Dr CRR blamed others and until now refuse to accept his mistake and responsibility.
          Mahesh

          Reply
          • Roba

             /  March 10, 2012

            So all you guys want to pin him down. If he says sorry you will be happy that your image in india will go to the hilt and you become the warrior. This kind of issues in science will be wiped out worldwide! If you are really serious about the issue you will have the courage to discuss about the problem and how to avoid this. I can give several examples what Rao has done for science and can you tell one example where you have done to indian science except abusing in this blog. Tell where you stand in your science in the international level? you guys are having inherent rigidity in your thoughts, inferior complexity in your minds. One can not expect more from you.The leopard can not change his spots! No persons who has some standing in science is playing the shenanigans of what you are doing. They have the capacity and maturity to understand the issue. They are not playing second fiddle to the media in a dangerous and despicable way. Those who are doing are non-performers and are trying to be popular by pulling others. They are like some spoilt NGOs. They get money for some purpose but they will misuse it against the govt. to get the media attention(like kudankulam etc.). For no other reason they will be noticed. Like this, in Indai too many people will get salary, but won’t do any research, nor guide the students(if they guide and publish their research they will know what research is and they won’t talk like media reporters. That is a difficult job. Easy job will be look for someone’s mistakes (even that mistake was advertently or inadvertently, but not intentionally done), that too a big personality is involved which is a prize catch for them. Free advertisement for them. However hard I cudgel my brain, I am arriving only to this conclusion as to my knowledge, only the non-performers who want to get some publicity are playing havoc on someone’s reputation without having any understanding or perspicacity to the real issue. This is the propitious time for them to have a hue and cry against a well-known person. Building one’s reputation takes years, but to break it requires only a few columns! they won’t understand as they don’t have any stand in science. Full time they can sit and do blogging and flogging!!!

      • Anonymous

         /  March 9, 2012

        Hi Rahul your logic is hard to understand. Don’t conceive theory; perceive things. If I want to do a conductivity test of copper(or anyother new metal) I should not follow the experiments that were carried out to measure the conductivity of other metal. I should not use the graph that has been used in coventional way. Or, you mean to say that one has to give the due credit by refering the person who first invented the graph and the X,Y axis etc., You can’t use the balance to weigh some salt because it was already used by some one to report the weight of sugar. So we have to properly refer the person who weigh the sugar using the balance and also the person who invented the balance in the introduction. otherwise, it will be a plagiarism. By your logic, the vendor in the vegetable market will be doing the plagiarism everyday with out knowing that. You can write one more article in the “The Hindu” which is a peer reviewed journal where all the readers and the editors are doing science. You may even ask those readers (who publishes research papers!) to cite the person who invented/fabricated the computer in typing their articles in the introduction. If you can not report the photoelectric experiment of a new material with the same experimental tool and the I-V curve (just because somebody else reported for someother material) I can not even type my paper using the computer because someone has already used it. It is a new avatar of plagiarism. keep it up. You will have enough materials to writeup in “The Hindu” and many more such peer reviewed journals for your whole life and no need to do science.

        Reply
        • Mahesh

           /  March 9, 2012

          If one wants to publish on same(similar) system (reduced graphene oxide) and application/characterization (as IR detector) they need to compare and contrast with already published result(s). In this case, it appears that, existence of similar work has been willfully (?) suppressed during the review. Authors(?)/die-hard fans could highlight novel aspect(s) of CNR’s work in the plagiarized paper to silence this discussion, rather than trying to misguide the discussion.

          Reply
  63. DAVID

     /  March 9, 2012

    @RUAWARE..I request you to go to the following link to get some facts about Institutes like IISC and JNCASR.everyone will immediately find that your allegations are completely baseless..

    http://www.scimagoir.com/pdf/sir_2011_world_report.pdf

    which actually rates the performance of more than 3000 institutes in the world. Please ignore the O::Output, values as it tells only the quantity. Look for the NI::Normalized Impact, Q1::High Quality Publications, ER::Excellence Rate: these numbers really tells you how good you are.

    You will easily filnd that institutes like JNCASR heads this table compared to other ones in INDIA.

    I am sure that these numbers will not come if you spend hours in writing the blogs and spend all your life-time in criticizing others!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  March 9, 2012

      @David
      This index for JNCASR includes above five papers or excludes? I am just joking; sorry, I am jobless like you!

      Reply
  64. Anil

     /  March 10, 2012

    When CNR Rao caught red handed for plagiarism, he comes out an excuse of lack of training in scientific communication. Prof. CNR Rao conveniently forget the fact that he has been at the helm of indian Science for decades and I woud like to ask a humble question to him, dear sir, where were you all these years? especially when you spoil the hardearned tax payers money. How much you wasted for your name and fame and for your family? He should not ever be continued as a an advisor and also should not hold any scientific positon in the country. Not only that a committee should examine all his papers published so far to understand the veracity of all his so called scientific findings.

    Reply
  65. RamDarshanSharma

     /  March 10, 2012

    The supporters of CNR Rao, please respond to me with facts, without using disrespectful words. The academic honesty of CNR Rao has always been suspect. Decades ago, when polywater was considered the greatest finding in chemistry in a century, Rao became a pioneer researcher in that field. When polywater proved to a hoax, no one questioned Rao’s integrity in publishing fake results in India. Much later when cold fusion appeared to be a great discovery, Rao started claiming that he had independently observed that effect. Now we all know that the discovery was a scientific fraud. But none of these lowered the influence of Rao with the politicians in power. Rao is responsible for the regionalism in science in India. Because of scientists like him, the Indian scientific journals have no international reputation. While he and his cronies control Indian Journals, they do not publish their good work there. Scientists put his name on their papers, hoping rewards because of his proximity with power. He is very unlike Sir CV Raman or Sir KS Krishnan. Publishing more than one paper every week while having too many administrative responsibilities is humanly impossible. Obviously he makes little contribution. Is this way to earn credit for doing science? Remove him from the position of power, and he will not be able to publish even one paper a year. His numerous papers on polywater and cold fusion of the past are complete academic fraud. None of his supporters are talking about that. But instead of being disgraced, he kept on gathering honors and power in India, thanks to the politicians he befriended. The plagiarism being discussed here is comparatively minor when one looks at his complete record to date.

    Reply
  66. RamDarshanSharma

     /  March 10, 2012

    The scientists who first claimed to have found polywater or observed cold fusion were proved to be frauds and discredited and didgraced. The simple reason was that their findings could not be duplicated. On the other hand, CNR Rao had no problem in publishing numerous papers on polywater and cold fusion and claiming that he had independently observed those effects. If such observations proved to be fabrications by original authors, does one have to write papers proving that Rao’s papers were also fraud? Science is not done that way. CV Raman, KS Krishnan, SN Bose, MN Saha, none of them published thousand of papers and had the same clout as Rao with politicians, but you can always cite one piece of their work which was unique, important and a new direction in science. Can you do that with Rao’ work? He has always been a blind follower of every work that was getting prominence in the world. If the original scientist did fraud, Rao would do fraud too. But his progress remained unhindered as that of some extremely corrupt politicians in India. He is not even APJ abdul Kalam who contributed towards progress of India. Rao is a symbol of Sahasrabahu (collaborators) in Hindu mythology, destroying numerous Jamadagnis (I am not one of them). A Parashuram was needed to cut his arms who never incarnated. So Rao keeps on going unchallenged.

    Reply
  67. Roba

     /  March 10, 2012

    “Yes, it’s an extraordinary fact. Coincidentally, it seems to have been discovered in the sixties, though not by Rao”

    this is your reply to the below comment by TH_Hex_Lee

    “The following words of his still resonate: “ReO_3 looks like copper, conducts like copper!”. (The surprise here is that an oxide shows good metallic behaviour). Why do I say this? To tell that Prof. Rao knows his oxides rather well, having slogged his way through them right from the sixties”.

    Does he mention that Prof. Rao has discovered ReO_3. Why did you poke pun here?
    Here you showed your im(mense)maturity – just like making some wrong information in “The Hindu” column and give the erratum in the comments!!!! Is that coming out of your frustration that someone has pointed out your (name damaging) mistakes in the column?

    Reply
    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  March 10, 2012

      Let me take lessons in maturity from someone who is willing to stand by their comments with their real name. You have posted 10 comments here, and (I am reasonably certain) several more on The Hindu’s site under a different name. How about you disclose your identity?

      It is extraordinary that, in the nearly 100 comments here and on the Hindu’s site that were posted after the Hindu article came online, while very few eminent scientists (though plenty of others) have chosen to agree with me under their real names, nobody who is attacking me or defending Rao has bothered to reveal their real identity.

      I should add that your IP address (which I can see in notifications) reveals your institute. But it is not for me to reveal that publicly if you do not.

      Reply
      • Roba

         /  March 11, 2012

        Apropos to your comment, I don’t understand why you need anyone’s name. when you allow so many to criticize Rao in anonymous names(as anonymous, buddy, x1@mailinator.com,anonymous2, ruaware etc.) why one should not give otherside view. I too talk to many scientists,(atleast you agree from your IP address investigation that I could do) who are known internationally; their opinion is these guys are blowing the issue out of proprtion without anyother work- where there is already accepted system in place to deal these kind of issues this is unwarranted- concerned publishers and the reviewers have the say when they come across it).

        You have the time to blog. Probably your institute will not bother and pay you even if you do this as a full time job. Not many people will have the time to respond to your comments at all. I too may not have time to look at your blog after sometime. As you mentioned, only a few to support your comment on their own name, that too, they may be probably non-scientists or they may have some grudges against Rao which is understandable in a profession. I think, Prof. Sood already expressed his opinion on this(someone already criticized it in your blog i believe). Even Gautam in this column trying to give some practical issues in dealing such cases. Nobody denied that what happened should have been avoided. It was an unintentional mistake. It is a problem many people would be facing in their research career. Rather than finding the ways to avoid such issues in future, many guys wanted to exploit the issue for their own agenda and taking it to the media time and again. What is their aim going to media rather than going to the particular publisher/journal? Are they educating the scientist how to do science through “media” or they want to get publicity by attacking some well-known person on issues where there are well established mechanism to handle. If this is the case, one can take some Supreme court/High court judgement and criticize a judge(or judges) in news papers, on an issue he/she/they delivered a judgement which you do not like it in your opinion. Why not?

        Anyway, don’t worry I will let you know my name at some point of time in your blog itself. I also hope that it is not a big problem for you to find the name if you enquire in that instituteI I also don’t mind if you want to reveal the institute from the IP address(If you make an announcement in your blog that everyone should reveal his/her name and address before posting i will do that accordingly). Will it in anyway change the issue? by the way I also disagree your statement that no one has defended Rao in their own name. will it give you any clue?

        I am sure, for one performing guy there are thousand non-performers waiting to take chances and no wonder you will get many responses for yourside if you digress the main issue of plagiarism to an individual based issue.

        Reply
        • Pramod

           /  March 11, 2012

          Roba, I’ve been watching your personal attacks on Rahul for the last few days. Please stop this. Perhaps you are under the impression that you’re helping Prof. Rao’s cause with your name calling and mudslinging. You are most definitely not doing that. I’m sorry to have to say that you are coming off as juvenile and immature.

          The difference between your anonymity and x1’s anonymity should be clear to all objective parties in this discussion. x1 has presented a set of facts which can be verified by anyone. (As a side note, it turns out that the facts show multiple instances of plagiarism involving Prof. Rao – I will come back to this issue later.) The most important point here is that we don’t need to know who x1 is in order to evaluate the veracity of his/her allegations.

          In your case, you are accusing Rahul of having an agenda against Prof. Rao. This by itself is a rather vague and meaningless claim given the absence of any supporting evidence. As far as I can tell, Rahul has been as balanced as possible in his coverage of this situation. If you disagree with that, you’ll have to give us some specific evidence pointing to a lack of impartiality.

          Furthermore, if one person is accusing another of impropriety, for this allegation to be taken seriously it is only reasonable to expect that the person making the allegation identifies himself/herself and comes clean with any potential conflicts of interests which might be influencing his/her opinions. I understand there are some cases when anonymous complaints are necessary, but this does not appear to be one of them.

          In general, you seem to be missing the point that as Prof. Rao is (rightly) regarded as one of the standard-bearers of Indian science, his work should be held to higher standard of accountability than those of lesser mortals (I say this with no intention of being sarcastic). The existence of multiple cases of plagiarism in some of his recent work is a cause for concern and is call to action for the great man himself to work towards policies to ensure these do not recur.

          As you doubtless are aware, Indian science has been tainted with multiple scandals involving data fabrication and plagiarism. To have one of our leading lights also tainted by these problems is really a matter of national shame (I exaggerate only a little here) and is an indicator of how ubiquitous these problems are in Indian academe. As such, I believe Rahul, especially given the fact that he has recently organized a workshop on academic ethics, is perfectly within his rights to bring this issue to our attention.

          I would like conclude by making a suggestion to you. Please do not look at this as attack on Prof. Rao, or any of this co-authors. Prof. Rao’s reputation is made and none of this is really going to affect him. The fundamental issue under discussion here is what we can do to educate scientists and graduate students in order to prevent this from happening again. Prof. Rao’s lapses are interesting primarily because they highlight the fact that even the best of us seem to be misunderstanding the issue of plagiarism.

          Reply
          • Roba

             /  March 11, 2012

            Hi Pramod,
            I do agree some of your points. My concern is that the blog has to discuss genuinely about the plagiarism rather than allowing people to accuse one person. Educate the students/researchers how to avoid such things in future. This is a global problem and people should not use this instance deliberately to take pot-shots on someone’s reputation. X or Y, the issue remains the same and this can be removed only by inculcating good values in the academic system.

        • Rahul Siddharthan

           /  March 11, 2012

          Sood spoke when only one case was known (and, I think, before CNR spoke). At that time my opinion was the same (as I say in The Hindu piece). Check my previous two blog posts: I have added updates but haven’t changed the original text.

          You can choose to remain anonymous but please don’t speak for others like Gautam. He is entirely capable of speaking for himself (non-anonymously) and has done so many times on many issues.

          My position, in a nutshell, is that (a) the Advanced Materials paper, by itself, was not a big issue; (b) however, CNR’s response was not befitting of a senior scientist; (c) the new examples that have come to light make the whole thing much more troubling, especially because (d) they suggest a pattern, not only of plagiarism, but of inadequate comparison with previous papers (the Adv Mat and APEX papers) or non-citation (the J Luminescence). We KNOW they have read those papers carefully because of the plagiarism. This, more or less, is what I say in The Hindu article. I say even less in this blogpost (I haven’t updated the main post here after the APEX example came to light).

          As Pramod says, please respond to that position, not to strawmen like my alleged personal motivations or free time. Also, as Pramod says (and as I said earlier), you are not covering yourself (or by association CNR, if indeed you are associated with him) in glory with your comments. Quite the contrary. Think about it.

          Reply
          • Roba

             /  March 12, 2012

            Prof. Sood’s comment has come in the “The Telegraph” on 25th Feb 2012. That paper has mentioned other two papers of Prof. Rao with Prof. Kirupanidhi in the introduction has the plagiarized contents.
            http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120225/jsp/frontpage/story_15178293.jsp

            Nature article has come on this issue on 24th Feb. 2012 mentioning about what Prof. Rao spoke about it.

            However, I am not sure whether the reporter of “The Telegraph” has contacted Prof. Sood before or after the three papers came to known. You are the right person to know as you know the news editors better than anyone!

            The scientific fraternity has been quick to come to the defence of the scientist. “Deliberate plagiarism is contemptible, but sometimes that is just not the case. Although the supervisor is responsible for the paper overall, it is not possible to go through every line and know if a student has extracted lines from another paper. Normally, we trust our students,” said DP Sen Gupta, retired professor, IISc. This is reported by DNA newspaper(22nd Feb.)

            In the same paper, YB Srinivas from the Institute of Wood Science and Technology said there are different kinds of plagiarism. “There is one kind where data gets plagiarised and that’s a high scale of plagiarism. From what I have read about Prof CNR Rao’s case, the lines in question are in the introduction. It is possible for senior scientists to inadvertently be party to this. As long as the core results and the methodology are right, I don’t think we can call this plagiarism,” he said.

            I think this is the opinion of many scientists(I don’t think this will change now also as it is the mistake in the introduction) on this issue and there is no need to blow it out of proportion in the media. One has to be careful in future to avoid such kind of embarrassment.

            By the way, I have one more problem. Since you are dealing with the citation ethics, I want to consult you before I send my manuscript to the journal. I want to report the photovoltaic study of my new carbon material. I found there are 200 reports available on the same study on different carbon materials. Now the journal limits my references only to 30(ofcourse I can not choke 10 pages with references alone). In that case, who will select that 30 references to cite? (In such situation, journal will leave it to me and they have the system to review and accept it or reject it. May be the reviewer/experts can suggest few other references to be included. Still the I may or may not accept it). If I select 30, the other 170 people (It will be more if it is highlighted in the “The Hindu” and in this blog!!!) will come to the fight asking why you have not cited my/their papers. How do I deal with them. Is there any code or strict guidelines available. Any law binds on them(publishers or authors) to cite all the 200 references. I guess, only I can choose what I feel suitable(for the scientific community, who has interest to read my work). It is my prerogative. To some extent publishers/reviewers will insist me. Not the 200 authors who published in different journals. In that case, others(authors of other 170 papers) can comment that since I have not cited their work, this journal can not publish my paper. Otherwise, they may say they will go to the mass media and can even write an article like you. Who will be here to judge my publication – Editor/Reviewer or the 170 authors and the media? Will the 170 authors have any locus standi here. I am confused now.

            One more thing I want to get a clarification. Tomorrow I start a journal(I am the Publisher), but in that I won’t allow the peer reviewed papers carrying any introduction. Only the experiments/data and the discussion(ofcourse if someone copied they have the court like patent issues/copy right issues). However, it will be published by the rigorous review process. Is that allowed?. Or any law prohibits to publish it however novel the work is!
            Sorry to occupy lot of space here. I won’t come here often in future.

          • Rahul Siddharthan

             /  March 12, 2012

            Roba — all the scientists you quote spoke before Rao did and before the new examples came up. As for your hypothetical questions, the hypothetical answer is, use your judgement, not someone else’s. The extent of similarity (beyond textual) is obvious, I have found, to anyone who has actually looked at the papers. Unfortunately they are all paywalled and I don’t intend to violate journal copyrights by linking them here.

    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  March 10, 2012

      ps — the Hindu erratum, as you can see, is also in the main text (in boldface), as well as on my other blogpost on the subject. If you want to have a constructive discussion, you can now explain to me why that excuses everything.

      Reply
      • Roba

         /  March 13, 2012

        Good Rahul. Atleast, you have answered my first part that the author(s) should decide which one to cite in the reference and to what extent. It is subjective and the extent of citation vary from person to person. In essence, it is a grey area -leave it to the authors, editors and the reviewers to decide. They will take care and there are mechanisms already in place. Otherwise, for example in my above case, all the 170 authors come with the same question that I have not cited their work properly. If they go to media this argument will get muddier!.

        I didn’t get any opinion for my second part that If I have to start a journal(as a publisher) in which I won’t allow any introduction in the paper published, allow only the experiments/results and discussion. Science, in my opinion, survive even without any introduction. As a publisher, I will publish the paper only after it is peer reviewed by the experts. The number of papers published in any area nowadays is humungous, it is highly impossible to track every thing on earth related to that area is already published or not by a researcher(consider there are many journals which may not be covered in google or in any search engine. Many institutes are bringing out with Bulletins) . So, I would say, citing is not necessarily the authors job, rather it should fall on Publisher’s team(if they do good job they will make money) who can get into all these relevant search engines and the experts/reviewers team and decide whether to publish it or not(on the other hand many researchers may not have money to subscribe all the engines). If I allow to publish some article which is already published it is my headache as a Publisher to deal with the copy right/patent right issues. Others need not write an article in the media blaming the authors on that issue. Legal courts are there to decide in such scenario, I guess. Will any legal system stop this approach? You may be the right person to advise me.

        Finally, I have looked at the erratum which is in bold letter. I do not know in which page the erratum was there in the hard copy of the “The Hindu”(appeared in the next day?). May be somewhere inside where no one bothers to read!! So, tomorrow I can write an article about a well known person indicting of doing some drug trafficking (in one line, wrongly) and then I can put an erratum next day in the hard copy(and e-copy). Is that enough? My ethics(whatever minimum I have!) says that I should first apologize to the concerned person. Infact, when I have to write an article about a reputed person in a popular media(which would likely to defame), I should take extra careful steps, and first ask clarifications/opinion(either by mail or by person) from him on the questions which I would like to get answers. This is a natural justice. My ethics say so. If you want to act as a judge on an issue(which defames a well-known person, who built his reputation by his hard work in research for 50 years, not by writing two columns in news papers, still working his level best to do good things) you must get all the information from the concerned people. From authors, publishers etc.. Not just write an article by cutting and pasting from the news items. It is even surprising that you wrote an article bearing your name, for which the headlines is chosen by the newspaper. : “My piece is as I wrote it (I believe) but the headline is theirs and is, I think, a little misleading..” You did not acknowledge them for that if you have written your article for their headlines. Even so, in your erratum, you mentioned that you still feel that the authors did not cite the paper properly- which is a grey area which should not be used by someone to defame an important person in a public media. This kind of mistakes bound to happen in any group and one should be more careful in future to avoid such incidents.

        I think I have had enough time with your blog. I do appreciate that you have placed my views in your blog which was against the defamation of one particular person for the unintentional mistakes and allow the discussion to be derailed from the real issue of plagiarism.

        Reply
  68. Anonymous2

     /  March 14, 2012

    @Roba
    I do not want you to retire so early-NOTHING HAS CHANGED YET!:-) In today’s news paper CNR Rao has refused to comment on the plagiarism issue, (in a function to release a book http://expressbuzz.com/cities/bangalore/Understanding-Chemistry-in-Kannada/371980.html), so discussion has to continue-
    You have said that “The scientific fraternity has been quick to come to the defence of the scientist” (CNR Rao). Similar to your sarcastic remark (“You are the right person to know as you know the news editors better than anyone!”) on Dr. Rahul, I say, you seem to be the right person to get response from leaders of Indian science on this issue- (a) Present and past- Office bearers of Science Academies; (b)directors & deans of science/technology institutions; ….. So that Indian scientists would know the limit to which our system tolerates (ALL can benefit!). With their permission you could post the name, position and responses. Questions are simple-
    (a) Are these cases limited to copying few sentences without proper reference(s)? Y/N
    (b) In their view, do they see overlaps in idea/experiments/results? Y/N
    (c) Do they believe that there is a need for any disciplinary action? Y/N
    (d) What in their view is the “appropriate official mechanism” to handle this type of situations?

    Note: Ignorantia iuris neminem excusat — Dictionary of Proverbs – Oxford

    Reply
  69. Very quickly this web page will be famous amid
    all blog visitors, due to it’s pleasant articles or reviews

    Reply
  70. Rahul

     /  September 10, 2013

    Although I am not doing research, I can say with almost 100 percent surety that the inability to articulate thoughts, as pointed out by someone on this blog, is real. I came from a vernacular medium school, and before submission of my bachelor’s project report, my guide corrected the thesis. Although I never copied sentences from papers (Thanks to my superviser’s advice), some of the complex sentences sounded incoherent. In my opinion, the best way to avoid this is to make the students aware of plagiarism and encourage them to write on their own even if it means poor structure (which can be later corrected during perusal).

    Reply
  71. Amazing blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed
    .. Any recommendations? Appreciate it!

    Reply
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