by Sunil Mukhi
Current Science, 25 March 2016, 110(6): 955-956.
On the international scene, the practice of scientific ethics has evolved rapidly in the last couple of decades. Today, one sees a sustained and proactive effort to inform, advise, guide and caution members of the academic fraternity, coupled with a credible investigation and redressal mechanism that operates whenever misconduct is suspected. For our research to command respect in the world outside, we Indian scientists must display a similar degree of evolution in our thinking and actions. While we all agree with the principle that the academic workplace has to be an ethically strong environment, we have been somewhat complacent about its implementation. It is increasingly urgent for us to take this step in a forthright and professional manner.
The global evolution towards proactive monitoring of ethics has many causes, one of which is the increased possibility for committing fraud. After all, the internet is an invaluable resource for an intending plagiarist. The flip side, of course, is that it also provides the resources to detect plagiarism through the use of software. Other reasons for this evolution include a rapid increase in the number of academic researchers, journals and publications, as well as an era of heightened expectations. These have led to intense competition for resources, fame and money, and in the same proportion, to more frequent malpractice. Finally, there has been a welcome improvement in the standards of what constitutes fairness in academia. Less than a century ago, women were banned outright from faculty positions in many universities around the world, but today any sort of discrimination against women is rightly forbidden in several countries.
A search for 'ethics' on the website of world-renowned universities such as Princeton, Oxford, Ecole Normale Superieure, Tokyo University, or just any reputed university in a developed country, readily brings up a detailed ethics document. This sets out what practices the institution considers to be ethical and unethical, and prescribes guidelines to be followed by faculty, staff and students. Some of the issues covered in such documents are laboratory safety, plagiarism and publication ethics, management of data, sharing of facilities, human and animal ethics, conflict of interest and the ethics of science management. Procedures for redressing the complaints as well as appropriate punitive actions are carefully spelt out.
Electronic Theses & Dissertations: ETD2015 Report
by Anup Kumar Das
Current Science, 25 March 2016, 110(6): 965-966.
This is a report on the 18th International Symposium of Electronic Theses and Dissertations held at New Delhi during 4–6 November 2015, and jointly organized by Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), and Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre.
Deepak Kumar (1946–2016): Personal News
by Shankar Prasad Das
Current Science, 25 March 2016, 110(6): 1112-1113.
The morning of 26 January this year came to us with the tragic news that our colleague Prof. Deepak Kumar was no more. On the evening of 25th while driving back from JNU campus to his residence in Noida he had developed uneasiness. His son immediately took him from the road to a nearby hospital where in the early hours of 26th he breathed his last. Even on the day before, he was in his office in the School of Physical Sciences (SPS), JNU where he has been working for last twenty eight years.