Summary on a complaint of academic misconduct
In July 2022, the institute Director received a complaint of academic misconduct against a faculty member and a master's student in his research group from an Integrated PhD student who is a fellow member of the same group.
The institute's academic ethics committee conducted an inquiry into the complaint. The committee found the PhD and master's research work to be collaborative in nature and have not found evidence for plagiarism as alleged. The committee found that the supervisor did not ensure proper sharing of credit between two collaborating PhD and master's students, and that the master's thesis did not acknowledge the PhD student's academic contribution.
Thus, commensurate with the lapse, the supervisor has been disallowed from admitting any new thesis students in his research group for a year, and the master's thesis has been asked to be modified in order to acknowledge the PhD student's academic contribution. A pre-print paper authored by only the PhD student and the supervisor has also been published on September 10, 2022.
Following the conclusion of the inquiry in November 2022, to help the PhD student with the remaining portion of her PhD programme, the department Chairperson had suggested that an independent faculty member from the department would oversee the publication of research papers and finalization of thesis of the student and would mediate interactions between the student and the supervisor. This was further assured by the Dean Academics in an email to the complainant.
The PhD student had formally left the IISER Pune campus on May 31 2022, by her own choice, and since then has been under the care of her sister in Delhi as the inquiry process went on. In response to an email received in early September 2022, the Dean Academics had offered counsellor support from the institute to the student. Later the counsellors and the medical committee chairperson too had reached out offering support.
On December 15 2022, the institute learnt from the family that the student is in the ICU.
On January 9 2023, a student group from outside the institute had stormed into the institute campus and made certain demands. The institute administration at first did not wish to give in to such a strong-arm approach taken by the group but engaged with them in the presence of the Pune police in order to defuse the situation. This matter will now be referred to the Board of Governors.
Despite the best efforts of the institute towards redressal, it is unfortunate that the student and her family could not be convinced of the institute’s response and have chosen to file an FIR against the supervisor and the IISER Pune administration.
Several facts pertaining to the matter are being misrepresented through social media alleging inhumane treatment by the institute administration and the supervisor. Such statements are factually incorrect and damaging to the reputation of all involved. We would like to reiterate that the complaint of academic misconduct received on this matter was attended to without any delay and with due diligence and sensitivity by the Institute administration.
All action taken so far by the institute has been as per due procedure and after careful examination of facts, and the institute is bound to deal this way going further as well. We request everyone not to be hasty to judge with inadequate facts and to respect the procedure which has been and will be carried out in a fair manner.