CSIR-CDRI scientists take steps to correct mistakes in images

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On June 6, two days after the report on image duplication in papers by CSIR-CDRI scientists was published, the director has instructed them to either send the correct image to the journal and get an erratum published or retract the paper if the mistake has an impact on the conclusion or if the mistake has been intentional.

A couple of days after I published my report about journal papers containing images with duplication and/or manipulation, Director of Lucknow’s Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI) Prof. Tapas K. Kundu has asked all scientists to take appropriate steps to correct the problematic images.

About 30 papers published in various journals between 2011 and 2018 by CDRI scientists were found to contain images that were reused or duplicated. The problematic papers were listed on Pubpeer, a website that allows independent scientists to publish post-publication review of scientific papers.

“A meeting of all scientists was called soon after the report appeared and all scientists have been instructed to take appropriate action. I am already on it,” said Prof. Kundu. According to him, where the mistake does not change the conclusion of the study the correct images are to be sent to the journal and have an erratum published, or retract the paper in case the mistake has a bearing on the conclusion or where the mistake has not been due to oversight but intentional.

Those papers where CDRI researchers are only co-authors and the main author is from a different institution, the scientists have been instructed to request the main author to take necessary action.

As per the draft report from CDRI, the scientists were told by the Director to be “extra vigilant on the issue of plagiarism and image duplication/manipulation. Misconduct will not be tolerated and suitable disciplinary action will be taken against those who indulge in unethical practices in research and publications”.

Except one scientist who does not fully agree with the comments made on Pubpeer, no other scientist has challenged the allegations. Two scientists had even earlier communicated to the journals for an erratum to be published in their respective papers. All the other scientists maintain that image duplication does not warrant a correction. However, a few scientists appear to have stopped with posting the correct image on Pubpeer and not communicated with the journals to set the record straight.

Published in The Hindu on June 20, 2019