In a major embarrassment to the scientific community, Plos One, a reputed international science journal has retracted three papers of CSIR — Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, for ‘fake’ data.
Plos One is an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science since 2006.
It covers primary research from any discipline within science and medicine.
“The investigation committee at the CSIR has concluded that there are no data available underlying this study and thus that the published results are fabricated. As a result, the CSIR has requested the retraction of the publication. In line with the outcome of the institutional investigation, Plos One retracts the publication,” says the retraction notice.
The papers all followed the same outline: a bacterium was isolated from natural environments and was able to metabolize some unusual chemicals.
CSIR director general Dr PS Ahuja told HT: “As scientists we have to be more responsible at an individual level. The institute concerned had initiated prompt action and disciplinary action will certainly not be a soft one.”
William van Schaik, one of the editors of the three papers wrote in his blog that all the papers were submitted between January and May 2013.
“The manuscript has been reviewed by two reviewers and I am very sorry that the reviewers have had to spend their time and effort on a manuscript that ultimately turned out to be a fake,” he wrote in his blog.
IMTECH director, Girish Sahini described the incident as ‘unfortunate’ and said, “We detected this six months ago and immediately started an inquiry. When the inquiry found that the data did not support the publication, we asked them to retract the papers.”