Three scientists caught in plagiarism row, top publisher retracts article after 14 years

The article was withdrawn after an inquiry, with the company issuing a retraction note on its website on July 7.

A top international scientific publication house has retracted an article by three Indian scientists on plagiarism charges 14 years after its publication. The article was withdrawn after an inquiry, with the company issuing a retraction note on its website on July 7.

The article ‘The Nitrile — degrading enzymes: Current Status and future prospects’ by Prof A Banerjee, Prof Rohit Sharma and Prof U C Banerjee was published in Springer’s Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology journal in October 2002.

Springer is a Germany-based publishing company that brings out textbooks, e-books and scientific journals.

The three authors are scientists working in the field of biotechnology. At the time of the article’s publication, all three were affiliated with the Mohali-based National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER).

The note on Springer’s website said the article had been retracted “at the request of the Editor-in-Chief, as it contains portions of other authors’ writings on the same topic in other publications, without sufficient attribution to these earlier works being given. The principal authors of the paper acknowledged that text from background sources was mistakenly used in this article without proper reference to the original source”.

The retraction note also lists all the sources from which the paper drew its material. “The authors have agreed to the retraction,” the note said.

Contacted by The Indian Express, two authors of the paper denied knowledge about the retraction, while the third — Prof Rohit Sharma — said the lead author was in charge of all correspondence with the publishers.

Lead author A Banerjee, who was a PhD candidate at NIPER at the time of the article’s publication, and is now an assistant professor at IIT-Bombay, said the publishers had not communicated the retraction of the article to him.

Prof U C Banerjee, who is still at NIPER, also denied knowledge about the withdrawal of the article. He was earlier denied the Tata Innovation Fellowship in 2011 by the Department of Biotechnology after different plagiarism charges surfaced against him.


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