CNR Rao, 3 others in plagiarism row

Eminent scientist and Prime Minister's Scientific Adviser CNR Rao and three other Bangalore-based researchers have found themselves embroiled in an unsavoury “plagiarism” row.

  They have since clarified that it was a “slip” over which they regretted to the original author and published an apology.

In a scientific paper published in the journal “Advanced Materials,” the text of one paragraph exactly match with that of an earlier research work by a different group published in “Applied Physics Letter” in 2010. This triggered the row.

The authors claim that the paper on graphene was first published in the online edition of “Advanced Materials” in July 2011.

Subsequently, they received an indication from the journal pointing out that a couple of lines of the text exactly matched with that of a previous publication. This was found out by a software normally used by the journal.

“We realised that a couple of sentences were included in the introduction part of the paper by our student, which neither of us paid attention as they happened to be for general introduction,” S B Krupanidhi, a professor of material sciences at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and one of the authors told Deccan Herald. Krupanidhi and Rao are the two senior scientists in the study, which also involves Basant Chitara and L S Panchakarla.

Rao was not available for comment as he was travelling.

“We have contacted the main author (who is a professor in the US) of the paper in “Applied Physics Letters,” by the phone and e-mail and explained the situation and expressed our regret. The authors also agreed to the possibility of such a slip,” explained Krupanidhi.

The apology note published in the December issue of the journal reads: “The corresponding authors regret the reproduction of the text from an article that appeared in ‘Applied Physics Letters’ (S Ghosh, B K. Sarker, A Chunder, Lei Zhai, S I Khondaker, ‘Appl Phys Lett 2010, 96, 163109)’ in their paper. The corresponding authors sincerely apologise to readers, reviewers, and editors for this oversight and for any mis-communication.”

This particular paper had reference to the original manuscript since beginning, Krupanidhi said indicating that the team did not have any intention of usurping another team's findings.

Rao offered to withdraw the paper to avoid any confusion. But the journal's editorial committee subjected the paper to scrutiny by a technical panel.

The journal responded stating that “since the repetition of couple of lines of text occurred only in the introduction part and the paper contained original technical contribution,” it has accepted the paper. There is no need to withdraw the paper, which was accepted on scientific grounds.

As the paper has already been published, changes cannot be made to the final version.
The next best option may be an apology from the authors, said a note from the journal.

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