ACADEMIC THIEVES, FORGERS, GOONS AND CHEATS




ACADEMIC THIEVES:
               
I just happened to see an article published recently in one scientific journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which shocked me. I suddenly realised this is robbery! The author of the said paper had nothing to do with that research work. I remember when I was in medical college that I had arranged for this entire project in joint collaboration of some other department of basic sciences for carrying out this research. My team under my active guidance prepared the entire research protocol and was working on this project. It was related to oxidative stress in some challenging condition. Amidst I took a voluntary retirement and so the project was then after guided by the person who was second in command then. She became the guide of the postgraduate student and this entire project was completed. The student passed her post-graduation degree exam. Amidst, some administrative reshuffle took place in the department and the person who feigned authorship of this article became the head of the unit. He has hardly any publication or academic contributions. In fact he despised anyone doing research and ridiculed them publicly. The same gentleman saw the strength in this work and shamelessly ordered the student to write a research paper on the basis of the results from that study. He robbed the entire work and got it published on his own name as the main author as if he did this work. This was a naked robbery carried out from people who sweated and toiled day and night for this work.
               


I have seen and have been victimised by this type of naked robbery of work all throughout my academic career. I remember vividly having carried out a research work on Burns in Pregnancy. It was a landmark research-paper bringing out some totally new insights into the matter. It got published in one national journal as original research without any modifications or cuts. Amidst I applied to an international funding agency to fund further research in the matter. I was shocked to receive a reply of rejection because when that agency went to my university report this research paper was shown under the name of one of my seniors and not me. She was nowhere near the research. Her name too did not figure in any of the authors of the paper. She was the person who would compile reports to be submitted to the university. The entire process would be so opaque that we would never ever know what has gone to the university. I immediately sent a letter to the funding agency indicating the publication of this paper in the journal and the proof of authorship. By that time however it was too late as the funds had already been allocated to another research project. I sent a complaint letter to the then vice-chancellor of the university who quickly ordered an enquiry into the matter – and who enquired the matter - A bigger thief, a known manipulator and a close friend of the lady who robbed my work. (He is no more – may his soul rest in peace) He prevailed upon the vice-chancellor to close the matter with his comments on the report: “Matter too trivial for any action to be taken!”

ACADEMIC FORGERS AND GOONS:


               
I remember sometimes ago a huge scam burst out in the academic world of medical sciences in India. A professor absolutely scandalously got a dissertation forged by his postgraduate student for submission to the university. He seems to be encouraging his students to do so regularly stating “What is there in a dissertation? It has no value”.  Implying - Do forgery! Imagine a teacher teaching his students like this. Teachers are expected to be role-models and peers who are followed by the students. Is this the legacy we leave behind? The gentleman concerned was immediately dismissed from his teaching post and now he has become sort of a goon in some semi-academic fraternity organisation throttling voices of dissent and terrorising anyone opposing him. The tragedy is that so much are people afraid of him that even the important and key office-bearers of that organisation bow down to his petrifying demands. Result – the entire organisation has been sued in The High Court for some problem created by this goon and is on the threshold of facing a severe censure and embarrassment in very near future.

ACADEMIC CHEATS:
                


This malady is not confined to one country. It seems to be universal. Some years ago a big cheating came out in the open in one of the royal colleges. The chief of that royal college had claimed in a case report that he and his team removed a pregnancy from the tube (ectopic pregnancy) and implanted it in the uterus. It grew in the uterus to a full term live pregnancy. There can’t be a bigger bluff than this. It got published in their prestigious journal and soon he was caught. Though summarily dismissed the cheater continues to be a big name in that country shamelessly.
               
I am currently writing a book on a subject in which I have invested more than two decades of my academic life. While trying to seek references on this matter I found that many authors had published their research in more than one journal – and what was shocking was that these were all supposed to be very reputed journals. As most of the journals take an undertaking for the authors that their work has not been previously published or published elsewhere, the onus is on the authors to be honest. Most of the times, they craftily design their papers.  The results are broken down into different parts each of which becomes a research paper for publication. Essentially the work nevertheless remains the same. I was surprised to see this being done by many reputed names in the subject and was universal all throughout the world.

HARASSMENT OF THE TALENTED:



For academic and research world it is not rare to be let down by peers, get victimised and hounded by colleagues and seniors. In this matter the case of Subhash Mukhopadhyay is very well-known. Dr Subhash Mukhopadhyay was an Indian physician from Calcutta in India. He was educated at the Scottish Church College and later, at the Calcutta Medical College which was then affiliated to the University of Calcutta. His life and death has been the subject of countless newspaper reviews and a Bollywood film directed by Tapan Sinha entitled Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Death of a Physician). He created history when he became the first physician in India (and second in the world after British physicians Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards) to perform the first In vitro fertilisation resulting in a test tube baby “Durga” (alias Kanupriya Agarwal) on October 3, 1978. Facing social ostracization, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult instead of recognition from the West Bengal government and refusal of the Government of India to allow him to attend international conferences, he committed suicide in his Calcutta residence in 1981.

SOLUTIONS ANY?
               
This path of academics and research in the entire world is very tough and challenging for the talented. No doubt they do get recognition and honours on many occasions. But there is always a fear of being robbed by white-collar robbers and thieves and hounded by sophisticated goons. Is there a way out? Probably being more positive and working still harder can be of great satisfaction. 



As Swami Vivekananda did when as a student in school he was asked to shorten someone else's line without erasing it, he went and drew a line longer. Rather than bowing down to these challenges, drawing our own line longer than the others who try to shorten our line is the difficult but most satisfying solution that I can see.

Comments

  1. Thank you sir for considering me worthy of such insightful information.the incidents narrated leaves one breathless.More is your own advice i wished i had person of your stature to guide me in the turbulence of several decades of my life gone and wasted alas

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    Replies
    1. God Bless You. I am touched by your kind words!

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  2. I'm very sorry for what all you had to undergo, yet, what is commendable is you have not lost your zeal to gain greater understanding and knowledge. I had somehow been wondering how come someone as academic as you is into the private sector [not to mean that those in private sector are not bright and knowledgeable, but in my experience, they tend to be more commercial and less academic than you are]. So, now perhaps I know.

    Unfortunately, at a relatively young age of 27, I've seen, if not got a taste of all that you describe. Having research papers to one's name now seems like some kind of 'maaya'. I wouldn't want to fall into the trap. However, my only real research experience - that is, dissertation I had done as part of my PG diploma course was a revealing experience. I was very happy to design my study, to think of the possible confounding and bias causing factors and to try to remove them. I also realized that if one would want to do sincere research, there is no limit to which one could try to find information on it. What I also realized, and very vitally so, being just out of undergraduation and having prepared for entrance exams (which make students obsessed with 'gold standard' investigation and 'protocols' - as if they're some kind of unbreachable laws), that what's written in the text books is at best enlightened opinion; that there is nothing absolute about them. So yes, I may want to carry out my own research in the future. But the very idea of getting a project by the Ethics Committee, who wouldn't understand the nuances nor would be interested, occasionally having to persuade patients a lot without their being benefiting in the process, having to incorporate fanciful ideas of seniors (fortunately I did not have to do that and had an intelligent and reasonable guide), etc., are quite discouraging. If one would not have the requisite freedom, research becomes just for the sake of research, and that is something I find quite disgusting.

    I know you've tried to highlight that issues related to plagiarism are not restricted to Indians, but from what I have heard, people of Indian subcontinent are considered pretty notorious and most reputed journals would reject manuscripts simply based on the fact that they would come from here.

    I personally do not find using a common set of data to publish more than one journal very unethical, but yes, it is dishonest, and I agree that it goes against the spirit of research.

    Those who have come in your path are lesser people. They cannot take away from you the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that it is *you* who had thought, designed and persevered. Ultimately, how much does recognition count for in real life, especially in a system that is so drowned in dishonesty and prejudice? :) Not much, if you think carefully about it. :) [Should Lata Mangeshkar feel bad if Anu Mallllliccckkk were to declare an Indian Idol contestant a winner instead of her? :D ].

    I wish you all the best with your endeavor to gather knowledge and apply your original ideas. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ketanbhai for your kind and encouraging inputs. They were indeed heart-warming.

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  3. DR.G.S. NARANG ‏@drgsnarang tweeted this on the blog: Swami Vivekanad gave the real solution :) good writing sir.

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  4. RaoPS ‏@RxPlacebo tweeted this on the blog: Absolute horror !

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  5. Bhavin Jadav ‏@bhavinjadav tweted this on the blog: Postgraduation thesis are often either plagiarized or substandard if not entirely fictional

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  6. Bhavin Jadav ‏@bhavinjadav also tweeted this on the blog: unfortunately most Indian medical journals & publications are a joke in quality of peer review & respect of intellectual property

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  7. dilip ‏@dilipdave tweeted this on the blog: sir thanks lesson to learn and very important one

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  8. If mediocricity is given preference as has been going on in our country, such instances can only multiply

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    Replies
    1. True Dipesh. Mediocrity is insitutionalised and constitutionlised....

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  9. Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP ‏@JayGordonMDFAAP tweeted this on the blog: Medical research is quite impure

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  10. Hiral ‏@amodiahs Tweeted this on the blog: sir your writeup deserves a retweet.

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  11. Silvio Aladjem ‏@dr_silvio tweeted this on the blog: Your story repeats itself far too often, we all know. Academia , unfortunately, does not police itself as it should.

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  12. madhvi ‏@madhvi15 tweeted this on the blog: plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery ...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dr.Damodhar.M.V ‏@DrDamodhar tweeted this on the blog: Your blog is a true description of the articles found in todays journal. Someone does the work someone takes the credit...

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  14. Col Manobendra Roy passed this comment on the blog in FB:‎...like you rightly wrote...this malady is universal...however loudly we may shout 'foul', we have to learn to accept this in all walks of life...sad though to sy the least...liked the passion and the racy style of your write...thanks for sharing...

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    Replies
    1. Col Roy. Further commented in the literary circle have been a witness to plagiarism...but never knew this could happen in scientific fields too where nothing can be hidden and research materials are available chutkiyon mein...these crass pretenders trying to climb the professional ladder by stepping on to the shoulders of geniuses needs to be addressed ruthlessly before this assumes a grotesque proportions...

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  15. Aditi Dhimar passed this comment on the blog in FB: Sir , I too have this experience, my name was cancelled from the article and I came to know about it after it's publication.

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  16. Gautam Pandya passed this comment on the blog in FB: It seems that majority of the researchers experience this type of goondagardi.

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  17. Rajeshkumar Vaidya passed this comment on the blog on FB: Thanks for writting this article. It is an eye opener for learners in a research field,

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  18. The last paragraph is the best! I have been inspired by white collar robber to do genuine research and work harder. And I have pledged never to steal credit from my juniors or colleagues for their research work.
    A presentation which I prepared some days ago on similar topic.. http://www.slideshare.net/PriyaBhave/research-misconduct

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Priya for your very valuable inputs

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  19. Priya Bhave posted this comment on Facebook on the blog: I can empathize with this Sir, and I suspect many of us who have worked in medical colleges have faced this. Most research guides publish their students work as their own. Worse is when people in the unit, who had nothing to do with the research publish it in their own name. Thanks for bringing this up, this malady has discouraged many juniors from taking up research in institutes.

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  20. Prashant Mangeshikar posted this comment on the blog in Facebook:The FOGSI journal in the 80s and 90s had articles from a Senior Professor from Down South who was a self proclaimed authority who cut and paste paragraphs from Fertility Steril eg Carolyn Coulams article on Clomiphene Citrate revisited. Research in India means Re search that is Searching what is already there!!!!

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  21. Barun Sarkar posted in Facebook on the blog: We are not only doing it ourselves but encouraging our pgs to find the easy way out needs some regulation body since there is no action people go about it with aplomb

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  22. Sir,
    Can v do a little bit further by naming this scoundrel.
    I am sure they are the same who share the stage at National & International level.
    It would at least help curb plagiarism to some extent.
    God bless us all.
    Phagun shah.

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    Replies
    1. Saint Augustine said: "Patience is the companion of wisdom". Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience....keep watching!

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  23. Punam Kalia sent this message on the blog: Dear sir, I am shocked and pained at this medical research piracy. What is the law pertaining to such intellectual property copying

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  24. Sudam Patil emailed this message on the blog: It is a great pleasure to read here from Dr. Pankaj. Thakq.

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  25. Vinod Rawal sent this comment on the blog by email: Hi, nice read indeed. Wish you name had named the culprit

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  26. Sanjay Ram emailed this comment on the blog: Dear Dr.Pankaj Desai, I have read all your blogs. Quite interesting. I would be following you thro my blog jobscareerlife@global. Thanks! Warm Regards Sanjay Ram

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  27. Deo gratias ‏@shivanikapoor01 tweeted this comment on the blog Specially liked the one on academic thieves. Very distressing. A grave issue. Brilliant solution. I too firmly believe in it.

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  28. Samartharam emailed these comments on the blog: I have gone through your blog. Research is a rare innovative brilliance, and it is not the property of every body. It is just like an irresistible itch. A person with research potential cannot keep quite. Many people want to do research. It is some thing which cannot be done when some body want to do it. Such people only try to snatch somebody’s work and try to publish as their own work.

    The current technology is the only answer for this menace. But for the technology, all the scams that we are seeing today could never have seen the light of the day. Just because of your blog you could express your experiences to everybody. I hope that online submission of manuscripts will help in a big way to reduce this menace.

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  29. Chirag Mistry emailed this on the blog: Really eye opening fact regarding research theft

    Patent of research in advance may prevent such theft but it is rare

    Thank you Sir for sharing important information

    One surprise is that we afford lacs for Vibrant but while teaching we cannot afford LCD

    We have only one or two LCD for whole college that may be under repair

    Because chalk and board method is the best that do not require electricity

    Thanks to interest of Vibrant people for spending at entertainment

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  30. Dear Dr Pankaj,

    Imitation is the best form of flattery :)

    Take this as a back-handed compliment - the cheater felt your work was worth copying/ stealing !

    Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD
    Malpani Infertility Clinic, Jamuna Sagar, SBS Road, Colaba
    Bombay 400 005. India
    Tel: 91-22-22151065, 22151066, 2218 3270, 65527073

    Helping you to build your family !

    My Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/Dr.Malpani

    You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/drmalpani

    Watch our infertility cartoon film at http://www.ivfindia.com

    Read our book, How to Have a Baby - A Guide for the Infertile Couple,
    online at www.DrMalpani.com !

    Read my blog about improving the doctor-patient
    relationship at http://blog.drmalpani.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. Rohit Bansal ‏@therohitbansal tweeted this on the blog: A good time to bring to the fore plagiarism in academia (like u have), in music, in journalism and films too

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  32. salma ‏@salmasays tweeted this on the blog: interesting thanks

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  33. carla - filmi geek ‏@carla_filmigeek tweeted this on the blog: Very interesting, thank you!

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  34. sarojraj ‏@SarojrajKtm tweeted this on the blog: so nice!

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  35. Have seen you working Sir and know which article you are referring to!!Believe me I was also taken aback when I saw the contributing authors..Such things definitely hurt but I feel they end up making us stronger!!And I know you are much, much, above such people who know only how to copy!! No one can take away from you THAT which is YOURS!! But I am sure you remember the song from the movie "Pyaasa"....ये दुनिया अगर मिल भी जाये तो क्या है ?? And I guess the requirement of MCI for certain number of publications etc for further promotion is the motivation behind this incident??!!

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  36. I am going through this in my department now.My head steals my work and work of other subordinates and publishes them in his name&his son's name who is in no way connected with this.I think MCI should have performance assessment for heads of depts based on their junior faculty's report on how these people encourage them.Only then this academic cheating will end.Of course not all are like this.There are some role model professors also among these "black sheeps".

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    1. Very sad situation Mina. I indeed want to take this matter up with authorities of MCI to insulate from these type of robberies. Thanks for your very vital inputs

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  37. Fr. Anthony SJ sent this email on the blog: Thanks lot for the notes. Indeed, it id very revealng. What can we do when everyone wants only wealth and money.Let us pray for a better world order

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  38. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

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