A paper entitled “Determination of dopant of ceria system by density functional theory,"  by  K. Muthukkumaran, Roshan Bokalawela, Tom Mathews, and S. Selladurai; Published online: 18 May 2007 in J. Mater Sci 42, 7461 (2007) has attracted strong criticism of plagiarism from the authors of the paper entitled "Optimization of ionic conductivity in doped ceria," by David A. Andersson, Sergei I. Simak, Natalia V. Skorodumova, Igor A. Abrikosov, and Börje Johansson, PNAS, Vol 103, 3518 (2006) 


Dr. Tom Mathews, Materials Science Division, IGCAR figures as one of the co-authors in the Journal of Materials Science paper. At IGCAR, which is a prestigious institute dealing with various aspects of  science and technology of fast reactors and associated technologies, we are very keen to get to the truth of this sensitive and serious matter, as it involves the reputation of scientists and organizations.


A two member committee committee comprising of Dr. M. Vijayalakshmi, Head, Physical Metallurgy Division and Dr. K.S. Viswanathan, Materials Chemistry Division and Dean HBNI-IGCAR, had been constituted to investigate various aspects of the Plagiarism issue, that includes the extent of involvement of Dr. Tom Mathews and events leading to the submission and publication of the above paper. This Committee had conducted an enquiry in confidentiality by communicating with the various parties involved, that include the original authors, Editorial office of the Journal, and the authors of the plagiarized paper. They have also had personal interviews with Dr. Tom Mathews, Dr. Selladurai and the student K. Muthukkumaran. A detailed report was prepared taking cognizance of all the available information. The, principal findings of this report, submitted to Director, IGCAR, are given below:


 “Based on the information collected from different sources and allowing for uncertainties due inconsistencies in the narrations of the different authors, it cannot be concluded if Dr. Tom Mathews had an active role to play in the conduct of Plagiarism at any stage of  the communication  / publication of the paper under discussion. The investigating team, however, finds Dr.Tom Mathews certainly guilty of not withdrawing his name from a paper where he has neither contributed nor is in his field of expertise. Furthermore, Dr. Mathews could not have failed to notice that the science discussed in the paper and the language used, are not consistent with what one can expect from Muthukkumaran, based on earlier research efforts and contributions of the student, which Dr. Mathews was well aware.”


The detailed report was also discussed at various levels of the Department of Atomic Energy, and Dr. Tom Mathews was also given an opportunity to explain.

We had also taken into account an independent report prepared by Prof. Kamanio Chattopadhyay, Editor,  Journal of Materials Science.


Taking these inputs into account, as also the credentials of Dr. Tom Mathews, and that the above episode is a singular case of aberration in his long scientific career, the IGCAR management has taken the following decisions:  (1) Not allowing Dr. Tom Mathews to take any students under his guidance for a period of two years;  (2) Scrutiny of his future publications by Head, Materials Science Division and Director, Metallurgy and Materials Group, before sending for publications and  (3) Cautioning Dr. Tom Mathews  that if plagiarism on any publication with him as an author is proven at any future date, he will be debarred from participating in scientific activities at IGCAR.


In taking the above actions, we are conscious of the need to maintain a delicate balance  between the seriousness of the issue and the sensitivities of the people involved. The transparency of our intent and actions, we strongly believe, will help us to build confidence in the overall system and redeem our image in the comity of scientific community.


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