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Indian scientists call for body for fighting scientific misconduct

Indian scientists are calling for an office of research integrity that could detect, investigate and punish proven scientific misconduct in the country.

The office would be part of a national policy on academic ethics which the group wants to see in place to cater for the country's rapidly expanding scientific community and output.

At a meeting a view days ago, scientists also said they want institutes to appoint 'ethics officers' and undergraduate studies to include mandatory ethics modules. The meeting was organised by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing, an inter-disciplinary global forum for scientists.

The calls follow a series of plagiarism charges hitting Indian scientists. At the meeting, T. A. Abinandanan, professor of materials engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, presented data showing a steep increase in the number of international journals in biomedical  sciences retracting studies by Indian authors between 2001 and 2010. Of 103,000 published papers 70 were retracted, including 45 cases of misconduct such as fabrication of data, or plagiarism, including re-use of an author's own, earlier work. The average retraction rate was 68 per 100,000 papers.

For comparison, he cited American research into biomedical science papers published through PubMed, showing that retraction rates were 17 globally; 48 in China; 16 in Japan; 14 in United States; and 13 in United Kingdom.