Society For Scientific Values
P.N. Tiwari and Narendra Nath
Some scientists working in Delhi formed an informal group in 1981
to help improve the environment of scientific research and education
in the country, by promoting well recognised values and by curbing
unethical practices and prejudices (SSV, New and Views, Vol.6 No.1,
2000). In 1984, it was decided to set up 'Society for Scientific
Values" (SSV). Dr. A.S. Paintal as President of SSV addressed a
letter on June 23, 1984 to all the Fellows of the three Science
Academies of the country and other established scientists in India
giving the background and objectives of the Society for their
comments and suggestions. An overwhelming positive response was
The SSV was registered under Societies Registration Action August
18, 1986 with 107 eminent scientists as its Founder Members. Science
Journals in the country and abroad welcomed the formation of SSV.
Nature, in its volume 326 dated April 9, 1987 welcomed the news
under the title 'Healthy Scientific environment promoted by Society
in India'. Highlighting the objectives, the journal hoped that the
Society would contribute to build scientific environment "free from
prejudices bureaucractic formalism, dishonesty, propagation of
unsubstantiated research claims, suppression of dissent,
showmanship, sycophancy and political manipulation". The SSV has
been striving to meet its objectives with some success.
Aims and Objectives of SSV
To promote integrity, objectivity and ethical values in
pursuit of science.
To cooperate with other scientific organisations for
propagation of the objectives of Society.
To secure and administer funds, grants and endowments for the
furtherance of the objectives of the Society.
To do all other things that may be necessary for the
fulfilment of the objectives of the Society.
The membership is open only to those scientists who subscribe to
the aim and objectives of the Society and meet the requirements
outlined below and whose name is formally proposed by at least one
member of SSV for consideration of the Executive Council of the
Society. On approval of the Executive Council, the person is invited
to become a member. The list of the present members of SSV is
available on its website 'http://www.scientificvalues.org'.
A scientist whose name is proposed for the membership of SSV
should meet the following requirements.
He (or she wherever applicable) should have allowed his name
to appear as an author in only those publications in which he was
actively involved, e.g. in data collection, theoretical
formulations, design and construction of apparatus, field trips,
statistical analysis, and interpretation of the results, as
distinct from administrative support and providing funds or
He should never have plagiarised, or made false claims or
indulged in or encouraged any kind of unethical or dishonest
activity in science.
He should whole-heartedly support the decisions and actions to
be taken collectively by the Society after such decisions and
actions had been approved by him.
He should agree to withdraw from the Society if he ceases to
adhere to guidelines 1, 2 and 3 above.
1. Seminars and Symposia
To serve its objective of promoting integrity and objectivity in
pursuit of science and to curb malpractices, the Society organised
seminars/symposia on the following topics:
Scientific Values and Excellence in Science (April, 1989)
Accountability in Scientific Research (April, 1992)
Scientific Misconduct and Disciplinary Action (October, 1995)
Ethics in Administration of Science (April, 2000)
The first three seminars were attended by 80 to 100 scientists,
mainly members of the Society and Fellows of INSA. The No.4
symposium was attended by more than 400 persons including
participants from industry and media. The proceedings of the first
three seminars have been published and widely circulated to the
members of the Society, the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities,
Heads of the Science Departments of Academic institutions, Directors
of research institutes and Heads of different scientific
organisations. A summary of the symposium on last topic was
published in Society's bulletin News and Views, Vol.7, No.1, 2001.
2. Scientific Misconduct Brought under CCS Conduct Rule
To bring scientific misconduct under the purview of Rule 3 of
Central Civil Service (CCS) Conduct Rules 1964 which require all
employees to maintain absolute integrity, devotion to duty and do
nothing which is unbecoming of Government servant, the Society wrote
to all the Heads of Scientific organisation requesting to issue a
circular informing the scientists that scientific misconduct would
be punishable under CCS Conduct Rule 3. The Government in their
reply to Lok Sabha unstarred question NO.5292 on 18th April, 1990
relating to ICMR circular agreed to it by stating that any scientist
found quality of scientific misconduct will be dealt with, as having
committed an act unbecoming of Government servant and lacking
devotion to duty.
3. Society's Procedure of Enquiry into Allegation of
When an allegation of misconduct like false claim, fabrication of
data, plagiarism, fake statement of authorship, omission of
authorship and violation of publication norms are brought to notice
of the Society in writing with proof preferably through a member of
Society, then the President of the Society seeks the response of the
accused by sending him the details of the allegation. The allegation
and the response, if any, are given to one or two members of the
Society who are specialists in the area for their examination and
reports. The President of Society writes to the Head of the
Organisation of accused person for taking appropriate action.
4. Specific Recommendations for Actions on Scientific
The Seminar on 'Scientific Misconduct and Disciplinary Action'
organised by the Society in 1995 made specific recommendations. Some
of which are;
Each University and research institution must have an 'Ethics
Committee', which should follow a transparent procedure to enquire
into allegations of scientific misconduct. The institution may
request the 'Society for Scientific Values' to conduct the enquiry
if deemed fit. The report of enquiry and the action taken must be
made public. Academic degrees, awards and prizes based on
fraudulent work should be withdrawn. Science academies and
societies should withdraw fellowship/membership conferred on
scientists found guilty of unethical practices.
The governmental funding agencies while sanctioning financial
grant to research projects should make it clear that if any
scientific misconduct is committed by the investigators, the grant
will be terminated and appropriate disciplinary action will be
taken by the organisation of the investigators.
The final report of large projects should be made public
including referee's comments for open scrutiny and
The names of the examiners who approve a thesis for the award
of Ph.D./D.Phil./D.Sc. degree must be written on the thesis to
make them accountable for the quality of the thesis. A copy of the
thesis must be made available to UGC who should keep it at a
central place for a certain minimum period for reference and made
a copy available on payment.
5. Inculcating Scientific Values in School Students
On the initiative of the Society the NCERT constituted a small
committee including three members of the Society to prepare a
write-up for creating awareness about scientific values among
students at an early stage. The committee prepared a very brief
write-up clearly stating what should and what should not, be done in
pursing science. The NCERT had been printing this statement in all
science and mathematics books published since early ninety's for
class IX to XII students.
6. Publication of Society's bulletin 'News and Views'
The Society started the publication of its 'News and Views'
bulletin in March 1993. It provides the members with information on
current activities of the Society besides publishing articles, views
and comments by the members. It is proposed to extend the
circulation to wider sections of the scientific community.
7. Website of the Society
The Society opened its website 'scientificvalues.org.' in 2001.
Information on the Society, its Executive Council and Members,
Present Activities of the Society and Newsletter highlighting its
achievements are placed online in the website.
8. Discouraging Holding of Seminars/Symposia in Five-Star
Holding seminars/symposia/conferences in five-star hotels has
several undesirable features such as taking scientific discussion
away from academic environment besides increasing the cost of
organisation which often make it beyond the means of many working
scientists to participate in it. Therefore the Society resolved in
1986 that the members of the Society would,
voluntarily boycott seminars, symposia and conferences which
are organised in five-star hotels,
try to persuade grant-giving agencies not to give their
support to such seminars, symposia and conferences,
create an awareness among colleagues and friends of the
undesirability of holding such seminars, symposia and conferences.
However, the Society recognised the fact that the present
facilities in academic/scientific institutions may not always be
adequate for organising large conferences with participation of
large number of foreign scientists. Therefore, it further resolved
that such large conferences may be exempted from the above
9. Norms for Awarding Scientific Prizes and Positions
There was a general feeling in 1986 that scientific awards which
have been instituted for scientific contributions as distinct from
managerial work, have not gone to most deserving scientists in many
cases. In some cases even the persons involved in deciding the award
themselves became the awardees which is totally unethical.
In order to uphold the highest norms in recognising scientific
contributions, the Society resolved in 1986 that;
The members of the 'Society for Scientific Values' involved at
any stage of the decision taking process of an award shall not
accept the award.
Councils, Board of trustees, committees and other bodies
associated with decision making process of an award must not
select the members of these bodies for the award.
10. Publicity of Unsubstantiated Research Claims
Several members of the Society pointed out in 1986 that some
scientists are getting research grants, awards and positions on the
basis of wide publicity of their unsubstantiated research claims. To
discourage such acts, the society decided that any research which
has not been published in reputed journals or received due
recognition otherwise should not be given publicity through mass
media. The national newspapers and T.V. media should employ
competent science reporters who are capable of differentiating
between true and false scientific claims.
11. Investigation into Specific Allegations of Scientific
The Society has investigated several allegations of scientific
misconduct. Some of them have been found to be correct. A few
representative cases are reported here in somewhat detail to show
the kind of scientific misconduct in our country.
a) Use of Wrong Means to Claim Priority
In the General Body meeting of the Society held on 27th April,
1987, Dr. R.R.
Daniel, Senior Professor of TIFR and some other
members of the Society pointed out that four papers have been
published in the currently very high competitive area of high temp.
super conductivity by the same group of scientists (Dr. C.N.R. Rao
and group) without the date of the receipt of the papers in the
three journals in which no paper had been published before without
the date of the receipt of the paper. They added that this has very
much disturbed the other scientists working in the area. The
President of the Society, Dr.A.S. Paintal requested Prof. Daniel to
send him the particulars of the journals in which these papers have
been published. These journals are - 1. Proceedings of the Indian
Academy of Sciences (Chemical Science) 2. Pramana 3. Current
Science. All the three are published by the Indian Academy of
The President of the Society wrote to the editors of all the
three journals about the matter stating that the omission of the
date of receipt of the papers is likely to damage the credibility of
Indian science and scientists. He requested them to send the
1. Actual date of the receipt of the papers,
2. Photocopy of
the author's letter accompanying the papers in questions,
Whether they intend to publish correction indicating the date of the
receipt of the said papers in the next issue of the journals.
The editors sent the date of receipt of the papers and informed
that the corrections have been/are being published. In all the four
cases, the manuscripts were received after the formal date of
publication of the journals. Since the editors did not send
photocopy of the author's letter accompanying the papers, the
President wrote to Dr. C.N.R. Rao, the senior most author to confirm
the dates. Dr. Rao confirmed the dates and argued the because of
late publication of journals, a rapid communication meant for
immediate issue may appear in an issue which may formally carry a
previous date. The Society did not agree with this argument because
research papers are referred to by the formal date and year of the
publication of a journal. It is against the norms to publish a paper
in a journal having formal date of publication earlier than the date
of the receipt of the paper.
(b) Plagiarism in Research Publications
The Director of National Aeronautical Laboratory, Bangalore,
Prof. R.Narasimha wrote to Dr. A.S. Paintal, President of the
Society in April 1989 about a charge of large scale plagiarism in
research by more than half a dozen faculty members/research scholars
of Dr. S.N. Singh's group of the Mathematics Department, BHU. He had
enclosed a set of correspondence that he had with Prof. O.P. Chadha
of University of Windsor, Canada as the proof of the charge. The
Society requested one of its members Prof. A.N. Mitra, a well known
theoretical physicist and Professor at Delhi University to examine
the case. Prof. Mitra found the charge to be true.
Prof. O.P. Chadha of Windsor University whose published work of
1973 was plagiarised by S.N. Singh, H.P. Singh and Ram Babu and
published in the International Journal of Astrophysics and Sjpace
Science in 1984, wrote to the Editor of the journal about it. The
Editor of the journal about it. The Editor in his reply to Prof.
Chadha dated February 13, 1989, expressed his regret and wrote; 'in
order to metigate the consequences we propose to take following
steps; 1) to publish in our journal an Editorial Note, calling
attention to your priority in this matter; and 2) to recline
acceptance of any further contributions from the authors who were
shown to have perpetrated such a misdemeanor.
The Editor added;
"In the past 20 years of my editorship of our journal, in the
course of which we published more than 6000 individual papers - only
half a dozen cases similar to yours had been brought to my attention
of these 5 were from India and one from Japan".
The members of the Society were shocked to know the extent of
plagiarism prevailing in the country. The President of the Society
Dr. Paintal wrote to Prof R.P. Rastogi, Vice-Chancellor, BHU in 1990
urging him to take strong disciplinary action against the persons
involved. The Vice-Chancellor informed that he has dismissed the
involved research scholar and withheld the promotion of the faculty
The Society is currently investigating two allegations of
plagiarism, one of it is against Prof. Rajput, Vice-Chancellor,
Kumaon University and the other relates to a publication by Dr.
Padma Vanker, IIT, Kanpur.
c) Fraudulent Research
Nature in its Vol.338 of April 20, 1989, published a long
scientific comment of Dr. Johan A.Talent, School of Earth Sciences,
Macquarie University, Australia alleging that "through the
activities of one Indian scientist (Dr. V.J. Gupta, Panjab
University), the paleontological literature on Himalayas has become
shot through with disinformation". The charge was related to Dr.
Gupta's publications of over more than 20 years. The Science also in
its issue of April 21, 1989 published the comments of Dr. Talent
stating that "A prominent Australian Scientist has examined two
decades of work on ancient Himalayan Geology and alleges it may be
the greater paleontological fraud of all time". Dr. Talent has
alleged that Dr. Gupta has been collecting his fossil samples not
from the locations in Himalayas as claimed in his publications but
from laboratories and shops while attending scientific conferences
abroad. The Society took note of these important publications and
decided to hold an impartial investigation. The President of the
Society wrote to Dr. Talent to send the names of about 10
international authorities working in the area who would be included
into the investigating team.
While the Society was in the process of constituting the
investigating team, the Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University decided
to send a team of 7 scientists from different organisations under
the leadership of Dr. V.J.Gupta to collect fossil samples from the
locations in Himalayas as claimed by Dr. Gupta in his publications.
The Society wrote to the Vice-Chancellor to include its President as
an observer in the team. The Vice-Chancellor agreed. Dr. Talent had
also written to Nature (Vol.343, page 406, Feb.1, 1990) that the
specimen whose provenance is under debate should be loaned through a
neutral body such as Society for Scientific Values for comparison to
be made by an independent laboratory.
The team finally went under the leadership of Society's President
Dr. Paintal as Dr.Gupta became indisposed in summer 1990 which was
the scheduled period of the team visit. The samples were collected
from the claimed locations and were got analyzed an independent
laboratory. The finding which showed that allegations of Dr. Talent
were true was sent to the Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University.
Initially the Vice-Chancellor took some strong actions which,
however, were diluted to mere nothing in a short period.
12. Concluding Remarks
The Society has been operating with very little financial
resources, so much so that it has not been able to pay TA even to
members of its Executive Council stationed outside Delhi for
attending the E.C. meetings. It continues to receive a number of
allegations of scientific misconduct as there is no other
organisation in the country which looks into such allegations.
Though, the Society investigates into such allegations, it has no
power other than moral to ensure right actions on its findings. It
would be appropriate on the part of the Govt. of India to make it
obligatory for the scientific organisations of the country to take
necessary disciplinary actions against their staff found guilty of
scientific misconduct. This will go a long way in curbing the wrong
practices which lower the quality of science.