A CHEMIST IN INDIA has been found guilty of plagiarizing and/or falsifying more than 70 research papers published in a wide variety of Western scientific journals between 2004 and 2007, according to documents from his university, copies of which were obtained by C&EN. Some journal editors left reeling by the incident say it is one of the most spectacular and outrageous cases of scientific fraud they have ever seen.No wonder he did not get caught. Who reads these journals anyway? ;) But on a more serious note, this really points again to the massive information overload everyone has to deal with.
The culprit, sources say, is chemistry professor Pattium Chiranjeevi of Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati, India. SVU conducted an investigation into Chiranjeevi's work after a journal editor presented evidence to university officials that the professor had plagiarized and possibly falsified several manuscript submissions. Chiranjeevi, who communicates through a wide variety of e-mail addresses, has not responded to multiple requests for comment by C&EN.
Chiranjeevi retains his teaching position at SVU, according to a university source who has requested anonymity. "He is a permanent employee of the university, and the administration cannot fire him easily," the source says. Instead, Chiranjeevi has been barred from research and research supervision and from holding any administrative post at the university.
"Chiranjeevi claimed to be using advanced instrumentation not available at the university," the source says. "The chemistry in most of his papers is illogical—the chemistry itself is wrong. How did this get past reviewers?"
"I hated seeing papers from this guy," says Gary D. Christian, who is editor-in-chief of the Elsevier analytical chemistry journal Talanta, one of the journals that published Chiranjeevi's research. Christian, who is professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle, says Chiranjeevi's tactic was to flood journals with manuscript submissions in the hopes of wearing down editors who would eventually publish some of his work. "He published 70-plus papers in 25 journals in three years," Christian says. "The case is unprecedented."
Chiranjeevi's papers have appeared in Talanta and four other Elsevier journals: Food Chemistry, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Analytica Chimica Acta, and Chemosphere.
C & EN news story
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