Dr. R.A. Mashelkar's response to SSV's queries regarding plagiarism in his book
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 16:24:11 +0530
From: "Dr.RA. Mashelkar " < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Subject: IPR Book controversy
Dear Prof. Chopra,
I am writing to you about the unfortunate controversy that has arisen with respect to the book, entitled "Intellectual Property and Competitive Strategies in the 21st Century" by Shahid Ali Khan and R.A. Mashelkar that was published by Kluwer in 2004. Let me explain to you chronologically the way the events took place.
1) It was about five years ago that Mr. Shahid Ali Khan approached me with the idea of writing a book together. I told him that I am so preoccupied that I will not be able to spend the time on the book and I will prefer to do it after my retirement. He, however, persisted. He said that I had already given a lot of speeches and done some writing too. He could use that material as such and also his insights and experience with WIPO to create a product that will be of interest to the community of IP practitioners at large. All that he needed was some help with research on the latest happenings in this area. Ultimately, I agreed.
2) I requested some help from a laboratory and they graciously agreed to provide the assistance of two scientists and a retired editor, who would look into the details of style, referencing, etc. The drafts were put together by this team on the basis of my work that was made available and also the material provided by Shahid Ali Khan.
3) It was a terribly busy time for me, since I was chairing three high powered national level committees. Besides this I was heading CSIR, DSIR, National Innovation Foundation, Quality Council of India and several other different Boards. I must admit that I was not able to go through the drafts line by line, as I always did with with reference to the Ph.D. thesis of my Ph.D students and the verbatim reproduction from Prof. Dutfield's contribution and the inadvertent lack of acknowledgment to the work of Prof. Dutfield escaped my attention. For these details, I had relied on my coauthor, who was giving his full time to this project. We also had the help of an extremely experienced editor, who was supposed to look after the details of referencing etc. In short, a combination of circumstances led me to being not as attentive as I should have been. This was entirely my fault.
4) After the book was printed, Prof. Graham Dutfield pointed out the error to the publisher. We took it extremely seriously. Shaid Ali Khan immediately made plans to go to London personally to meet Prof. Dutfield, apologise to him for this inadvertent error, and seek a solution that will be agreeable to Prof. Dutfield. I agreed with this course of action.
5) Shaid Ali Khan and Prof. Dutfield met in London over a lunch. It was a very cordial meeting. It was agreed that with the first possible opportunity the error will be corrected.
6) That opportunity came with the printing of the Indian edition of the book. Thus appropriate correction _was_ done by us in 2006. I enclose for your reference the copy of the pertinent pages from the book, where appropriate acknowledgment has been given to Prof. Dutfield and to his co-workers.
Although the error has been corrected, I am highly embarassed by this and I have decided to take some further hard actions. They are as follows:
a. Shahid Ali Khan and I had worked on the second edition of the book and it was to go to press (with the corrections) in March. I am stopping that forthwith. With this sad controversy, I do not believe that any further editions of this book should appear in the print. Shahid Ali Khan is presently in Europe to meet the publisher and explain our reluctance to go ahead with the II edition.
b. I had received a royalty of US $ 2122 from the sale of the first edition. I believe I have no right to take it. I am donating it to a charity. My family and I will shortly take a decision as to what this charity will be.
In summary, therefore, the following actions complete the account:
1. Correction of the error with the first possible opportunity in 2006.
2. Stopping further editions of the book.
3. Not taking any personal gains from a book, in which the mistakes occurred.
As a founder member of the Society for Scientific Values, I feel sorry for this incident. I have used the greatest of rigor and ethical standards for everything that I have done in my life. I sincerely apologise for this lapse, which should have never happened.
With warm regards,