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Investigation reveals serious scientific misconduct by IIT Dhanbad faculty

The first level of investigation by a four-member committee formed by Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad to look at possible scientific misconduct by Dr. Rashmi Madhuri and Prashant Sharma has been completed. “The report prepared by the committee will soon be sent to the Board Chairman for further action,” says Prof. Rajiv Shekhar, Director of IIT Dhanbad. He refused to divulge any details of the report.

Assistant Professor Dr. Madhuri (Department of Applied Chemistry) and Assistant Professor Dr. Sharma (Department of Applied Physics) have 14 papers that have been retracted and two papers corrected for image duplication. The first retraction was in February this year and seven more papers were retracted in March and April 2018. Four more papers were retracted on May 30 this year. About 25 more papers with problematic images have been listed on Pubpeer website, a website that allows users researchers to discuss and review scientific papers that have been published. All the papers have issues with images that have been duplicated in same or subsequent papers to represent different materials or experiments.

Talking to The Hindu on June 1, Prof. Shekhar had said: “Investigation [into this issue] had already started before I came in as the Director in March end. Needless to say that we take such issues very seriously… the board will take a decision depending on the extent of guilt. The investigation will be completed shortly.”

The fact-finding committee, comprising of four members from other reputable institutions in India, had looked at all documents to bring out the facts and prepare a charge sheet against the two faculty members. “No one from the institute [IIT Dhanbad] is part of the committee,” Prof. Shekhar says.

Prof. Shekhar says the scientific misconduct appears serious.

Talking about what entails once the report is sent to the Board Chairman, he says the two faculty members will be served with a charge sheet once the Board approves it. “If they accept the charge sheet then it goes to the Board for a decision on penalty,” he says. “If they don’t accept the charge sheet [contest the charge sheet] then another committee will look at their response [and take a decision].”

“The next Board meeting will be held during September end. The entire investigation will be completed by the end of this year. We wish to complete it as soon as possible,” Prof. Shekhar says.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 5:05:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/investigation-reveals-serious-scientific-misconduct-by-iit-dhanbad-faculty/article24704237.ece

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