Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prof. Rao responds to the plagiarism row

And the first response is not encouraging. It starts with this howler:

"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.

And it ends with him disowning his co-authors:

He said the paper was written by Prof Krupanidhi and he did not go through it and had no control on the issue. "I did not directly produce the manuscript which I normally do... The paper seemed perfectly alright except that later we found that in the introduction and in the description of an equation, a few sentences had been taken from a paper published already," he added.

Does this make you too wonder who's getting damaged more by this confession?


  1. Dheeraj Sanghi said...

    Extremely sad that he decided to blame the PhD student. If he does not have time to even read the manuscript before submission, why does he want his name on the paper.

  2. Dilip D'Souza said...

    Disappointing reading, as you indicate. What does "this is not plagiarism but an instance of copying" mean?

  3. horadecubitus said...

    An anonymous commenter on my blog has dug up a couple more examples of this "copying of sentences" that is not plagiarism, in papers that were authored by CNR but perhaps not seen by him. Sad to say, the same person is lead author in all these papers. It doesn't look good for him.

  4. jbeck said...

    Disappointing. So when you can't bring a great scientist - arguably the greatest Indian scientist of our time - down look for the least significant and inconsequential matters. Thankfully CNR's reputation rests on other achievements. Even if his jealous and petty colleagues in India (who sadly aren't science denying troglodytes like those in the US but well qualified scientists) should bury his reputation in a pile of mud, in concert with a petty foreign science establishment, the merit of his work will live on. This is not the first time an Indian scientist or scientist of Indian origin has been let down by his own. It happened with GNR who rightfully deserved the Nobel, and who when he was driven out by a casteist-communal DMK from Madras University was abandoned by the entire Indian science establishment. It happened with George Sudarshan whose work in electromagnetics was ripped off by lesser minds. It happened with Dr.Kapahi, the man who invented optical fibers. And it is now happening with CNR who has tirelessly worked for the cause of Indian science and scientists. I note that all you wannabe Sherlocks haven't yet looked at the substance of the those papers you have examined. It takes little intelligence to compare sentences. Loftier minds would analyze content, but then we are talking of Indians aren't we? We are crabs, everyone of us. Should one rise the others will pull him down. This is the same petty mindedness that brought down the reputations of three scientists at Ohio University a few years back. Before you worthies reach for your pitchforks and sickles, remind yourself that you aren't philistines but educated people to whom we have entrusted the future of our children. Cut out the glee, at least.

  5. Intros Pector said...

    jbeck is spot-on in spirit. First of all, there has been no *material* plagiarism, i.e., no copying of ideas. The concerned journal itself has not used the word "Plagiarism", but Rahul Siddharthan and some other academics and the media are freely using the word and tarring the concerned with a darker brush than they deserve.

    The fact that a young student's career is at stake here for a relatively correctable transgression seems completely lost on Rahul Siddharthan and his ilk -- is this the kind of error for which a student's name needs to be tarnished in national newspapers, let alone the names of otherwise well-reputed scientists? The real question here is whether faculty such as Rahul Siddharthan have the maturity to be guiding students!

    This is the kind of issue which should have been handled within the confines of academia. If the same student has made the mistake of copying introductory sentences in multiple papers, the student needs to be educated within the confines of academia, not in the national press. Second, if the senior authors missed the transgression, they need to be alerted in an appropriate manner within academia. Third, if someone feels that the senior-most author needs to read every sentence of a paper when there are other senior authors also involved in the publication, then that person clearly does not understand the spirit of authorship of publications and needs to be questioned on whether he deserves to be in academia. Authorship is for technical contributions of various levels, and is not just based on whether the person held a pippette during the experiments or actually typed in the text himself! Fourth, if people have other grouses against Prof. Rao or Prof. Krupanidhi, they need to address them head-on rather than via this paper where a student is the lead author and whose career is at stake. Finally, if Rahul Siddharthan really feels there is plagiarism of ideas, he needs to contact the concerned journal and experts in the field rather than pass judgement himself, since his area of expertise seems to be quite different from that of the paper at issue. Why is Rahul Siddharthan posturing as an expert in this field?