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Indian scientists worst offenders at faking research

delhi Updated: Nov 26, 2010 02:23 IST
Anika Gupta
Anika Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Indian scientists are more likely to cheat when reporting scientific results than scientists from other countries, says a new study in the US — a view endorsed by independent reviews.

“India does have the lowest (worst) E/F [error to fraud] ratio,” said R. Grant Steen, the US-based consultant who carried out the study, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Steen analysed the number of withdrawals, of academic papers related to the life sciences over the last 10 years. Of the 50 Indian papers withdrawn, 17 — or 34% — were for fraud of some kind, which inclu-des copying findings, making up findings, or fudging findings.

Independent scientists confirmed the result. Bob O’Hara, who writes a statistics blog, has found Indian scientists’ papers are five times more likely to be retracted for fraud than those by scientists of other countries.

Members of the Indian scientific community say there is a systemic problem. “Some of our senior scientists have been involved in fraud,” said Dinesh Abrol, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies in New Delhi.

Earlier this year, leaders of the nation’s top science organisations, or academies, had to apologise when a high-level inter-academy report on genetically modified crops was found to contain lifted text.

There are no nationally fra-med rules for punishing research fraud. Institutions are responsible for their own scientists. The Society for Scientific Values tracks cases, but the organisation is made up of volunteers.

“There is evidence fraud has gone unpunished,” said Abrol.