About LENRs

Details of what the university's investigation found
By Brian Wallheimer
The [Lafayette, Indiana] Journal & Courier

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This is a synopsis of the allegations and conclusions in the final report into the investigation of research misconduct against Purdue University nuclear engineering professor Rusi Taleyarkhan. The allegations and other important notes in the report are summarized. Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally left his name off papers in which he was directly involved with the research to disguise his role.

Conclusion: Though Taleyarkhan was heavily involved with the work, there are a number of reasons why a mentor might leave his name off a paper and give credit to a student or junior colleague. This is not misconduct.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally added a student's name as an author of a paper when Taleyarkhan knew the student was not involved in the research or experiments.

Conclusion: Taleyarkhan was responsible for the student's name on the paper knowing the student did not do the work. This is research misconduct.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally manipulated a Purdue press release to make it look as though other researchers were responsible for guiding research that Taleyarkhan was actually in charge of. This was to make it look as though the work was done independently of Taleyarkhan.

Conclusion: While Taleyarkhan did manipulate the press release, the information is true. Also, a press release is not part of the scientific record, so it cannot be found to be research misconduct.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally stated in a paper for Physical Review Letters, a scientific journal, that his research had been independently confirmed.

Conclusion: Taleyarkhan's claims of independent confirmation are not supported based on his extensive involvement in experiments that claim independence. That is falsification of the scientific record and is research misconduct.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally used data in a paper to a scientific journal that already had been used in another journal written by other authors.

Conclusion: While Taleyarkhan broke copyright laws, the authors agreed to share the data and have not claimed plagiarism. This is not research misconduct.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally wrote a paper for a scientific journal using the results published in another journal in an attempt to make it seem as though separate experiments yielded the same results.

Conclusion: Again, all authors agreed to the sharing of data, and repetition is in keeping with the review nature of papers. No allegations of plagiarism have come from the authors, so research misconduct did not occur.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan used federal funds for a paper in a scientific journal and failed to acknowledge the support of the agency in the publication.

Conclusion: Taleyarkhan was paid by public funds during the time the manuscript was written and the federal funding should have been acknowledged. However, there is not evidence this was intentional. This is not research misconduct.

Allegation: In a response to criticism of his work in a scientific journal, Taleyarkhan deleted some of his original data to make his case.

Conclusion: The omission of one data point was scientifically defensible and not an instance of research misconduct.

Allegation: Taleyarkhan intentionally falsified a fusion demonstration in his lab.

Conclusion: The evidence in this matter does not support a conclusion of research misconduct.

Other highlights

.The report states the committee could not find any other instances of scientists being able to replicate Taleyarkhan's results without Taleyarkhan having direct involvement with the experiments. This comes just short of questioning whether Taleyarkhan's results were fraudulent.

.While Taleyarkhan's enthusiasm for his work is admirable, it led him to claim his students independently confirmed his results when they had not, as well as inappropriately adding a student's name to a research paper.

.Purdue News Service, which wrote the press release claiming other scientists had replicated Taleyarkhan's research, did not follow its own rules of checking information with outside sources. It relied too heavily on the work of Taleyarkhan and his employee and yielded to pressure to speed the release. The report did credit the News Service for removing the word "independent" as a description in the final draft of the press release.

.The findings where Tale-yarkhan was found guilty were less egregious than had he been found guilty of reporting fraudulent research findings.


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