N.K. Sahoo, a physicist at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), is yet again in the midst of controversy over the presence of duplicate content in his papers. An American journal named Applied Surface Science has issued retraction notices for four of his papers, according to Retraction Watch. This happened after his colleagues at BARC, an institution under the Department of Atomic Energy, had apparently lodged a complaint against him.
This is not the first time his colleagues have done such a thing. In September 2016, he had been accused by them of plagiarising from his own articles over a dozen times in an effort to boost publication numbers, according to Mumbai Mirror. Two of his papers had been retracted by the same journal last year. All of Sahoo’s six retracted papers were published between 2005-2007.
The fresh notices issued by the journal detail that Sahoo had duplicated “several figures and portions of text” from his previous works. This type of duplication, called self-plagiarism, is rampant in Indian academia. In March this year, for example, allegations of self-plagiarism had been brought against V. Ramakrishnan, the director of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthpuram. Other scientists continue to hold important positions in academia and research despite having admitted to their crimes as well as repeat offences.
The latter is also the case with Sahoo: he was promoted in May 2016, according to Mumbai Mirror. In fact, according to another report, Sahoo had also been accused of entering a fist-fight with another scientist, A.P. Mishra, in January this year.
According to the notices issued by Applied Surface Science, a 2006 paper by Sahoo had been retracted “as it duplicates parts of the text of the article that was published by the authors in Applied Optics 45 (2006) 3243–3252.” This paper has been cited 12 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, a research evaluation website.
A retraction notice for another 2006 paper says that content had been plagiarised from the same article as above as well as from another 2006 paper, which has since been retracted. Finally, two other notices tell of material having been plagiarised from previously retracted papers, each of which had been cited multiple times.
On his part, Sahoo has not reacted to the fresh retraction notices. He had told Mumbai Mirror last year that he was “being targeted” because the other scientists were “jealous” of him. He currently heads the atomic and molecular physics division at BARC.