An independent committee formed by CSIR in early June 2019 to investigate into image duplication and/or manipulation in published papers has submitted its report to CSIR Director-General Dr. Shekhar Mande. The report will be sent to the directors of four-five CSIR labs, which were investigated, for necessary action.
An independent committee that was formed in early June 2019 to investigate the issue of image duplication and/or manipulation in papers published by researchers from the Lucknow-based Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) has submitted the report to Dr. Shekhar C. Mande, Director-General of CSIR. The committee was formed in response to an article I wrote about 130 scientific papers that had problems with images.
According to Dr. Mande, the scope of the committee was expanded to cover four-five CSIR labs that had similar problems with images in published papers. “It was a massive exercise as the committee looked into each case of alleged image duplication and/or manipulation in published papers. Every paper of the scientists mentioned on PubPeer website was looked into,” says Dr. Mande. The committee had given all the scientists an opportunity to defend themselves and tell the committee what action — issuing a correction or retraction — they had taken. The report has classified the problematic papers into specific categories based on the nature and degree of image alteration or duplication.
The committee had been specifically instructed to be objective, fair, and fiercely impartial in their investigations. “Though it was a massive exercise, the committee has done a fantastic job,” says Dr. Mande.
“The committee has submitted the report to me. I will be sending the report to the respective directors in a week’s time for them to take necessary action,” says Dr. Mande. “The directors of each CSIR lab will follow the CSIR administrative procedures and give the scientists an opportunity to defend their case. The directors will take action where necessary.”
In the case of CSIR-IITR, former director of the institution Dr. Kailash Gupta and the current director Dr. Alok Dhawan have papers with problematic images. “In the case of CSIR-IITR, I will look into the case myself,” says Dr. Mande.
In June last year immediately after the committee was formed, Dr. Mande told me: “CSIR has a zero tolerance policy on the issue of scientific integrity. In the past, such matters have been dealt with very firmly. If anyone is found to be guilty of manipulations thereby leading to deliberate scientific fraud, the person will face suitable disciplinary action.”
According to Dr. Mande, CSIR guidelines on research ethics have been framed with inputs from several experts. The guidelines will be applicable to every CSIR scientist and even to those who carry out research based on any grant from CSIR. “The guidelines were placed before the CSIR governing body. It has approved the guidelines. It will next be placed before the CSIR Society. The approval is expected within a month. The guidelines will be sent to all CSIR labs,” he says.