Academic Publishing Research integrity

Christmas messages from Professor Turner, his ex-protégé under investigation Tiwari, and Elsevier

My earlier article about the fake Linköping University professor Ashutosh Tiwari and his scam of predatory conferences and journals, made quite a splash. Swedish Linköping University (LiU) now opened an investigation into research misconduct and other “improprieties” of their past employee Tiwari. The investigation is likely to include his past patron, bioelectronics professor Anthony “Tony” Turner, whose Christmas message to the research community I relay below, followed by the LiU announcement. Since Turner is also Editor-in-Chief on an Elsevier journal Bionsensors and Bioelectronics, his message quotes a statement from Elsevier, which describes yours truly as a “toxic individual”, with whom Elsevier advises their academic editors to keep contact ” to the absolute minimum”.

On top, Tiwari himself sent a bizarre round email which I also quote below. His empire of fake research institutes and predatory publisher VBRI Press as well as his predatory conference outlet IAAM (International Association of Advanced Materials), all located in a small rented office in the vicinity of LiU, are apparently crumbling. Websites of Tiwari’s businesses get scrubbed, videos of the duped participants of his scam conferences get pulled off YouTube. I received meanwhile an English-language report of a misconduct investigation LiU performed on Tiwari’s activities in October 2015, terminated without conclusion simply because he was not officially employed at LiU at that time anymore. Only that Tiwari didn’t really leave after his contract expired in March 2015. He stayed at Turner’s Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology (IFM), according to Turner himself until June 2017, while witnesses reported the fake professor still having his office, as well as a research group of graduate students long after he was supposed to have left LiU. Where, as witnesses told me, Tiwari made them surrender all their research data to him, even if it was produced outside LiU. Tiwari then published the data under his own name, even when he had no input whatsoever in that research. In fact, these students quickly noticed how little clue the fake professor had of the science he was supposed to be a great expert in.

Others reported that Tiwari engaged in plagiarism, by translating foreign language papers of other authors and publishing them in English as his own. Finally, Tiwari allegedly told to his students that his own PhD research at the University of Allahabad took mere three months and that his father paid for his doctorate diploma, which Tiwari then used to obtain a Marie Curie fellowship in 2011 and a “docent” (habilitation) degree at LiU, together with a lecturer position in 2013.  All thanks to his patron Turner, whose journal Bionsensors and Bioelectronics published a large number of very shady papers by Tiwari and his Allahabad partner and probably the laziest of all cheaters, Prashant Sharma (see this report).

image-1513537617734
An apparently duplicated spectra analysis from Turner’s lab, Tiwari et al Bionsensors and Bioelectronics 2012. Signals B and C are identical in every pixel of their noise, up to the vertical line. Source: PubPeer.

All that time between 2011 and 2017, LiU saw nothing, or maybe chose to see nothing, not even that their fake professor Tiwari was still roaming IFM corridors and organising predatory conferences together with Turner, on cruise ships, and in the name of LiU. In fact, in February 2017 LiU proudly celebrated the funding their reserahcer Tiwari got from the Swedish research council, Vetenskapsrådet (VR):

New grant in Strong research environments

Mikael Syväjärvi is partner by carbon allotropes growth process on epitaxial graphene with Uppsala University, Kiel University and the Biosensors team headed by Ashutosh Tiwari at Linköping University in combinations of hybrid nanomaterials as stimuli-enabled energy materials for smart bioelectronic devices. 18 projects were selected from 222 applications. The total budget is 24 million SEK over 6 years.

 

Tony Turner feels himself quite safe, and declared to his colleagues in this email that he enjoys full support from his Head of Department Ulf Karlsson (who in turn ends his assignment coming December 31st. Also note the advise from Elsevier to the research community Turner relays, on how to deal with that “toxic individual” Leonid Schneider. Elsevier in fact even seemed to confirm the correctness of their quote in Turner’s Christmas message.  William Gunn, Elsevier’s Director of Scholarly Communications, contacted for an explanation from Elsevier, did not deny the quote, yet declared to me: “I’m afraid no one is interested in engaging with you“. Now, without any further ado,

Christmas message from Professor Tony Turner

heading

Dear Colleagues,”

Please forgive the wide circulation, but I believe all of you have received communications from or about two internet trolls, Leonid Schneider and [name of a 3rd party actor removed for privacy concerns, -LS] who have launched an attack on several members of LiU. Nowadays, we are used to spam and viral attacks, but this is the first time I have been the subject of these vicious, unpleasant and untrue campaigns conducted both publicly online and via personal e-mails. I am not alone in this and a number of Editors of prestigious, high impact factor journals have recently been subjected to similar attacks. The best advice I have received is not to respond, since any factual response is distorted out of all recognition and used in further online campaigns. The more responses these trolls get the more they are encouraged to propagate their lies. Hence my silence on the matter and I have counted on the common sense and discretion of my colleagues not to respond or comment without being properly aware of their facts. The methodology of these trolls is cunning in that they mix outright lies with distorted truths, the latter of which can lend some credence to their argument, if read without proper scrutiny and checking of the so-called facts presented.

I have received considerable support from my publisher, Elsevier, since their journals are also under attack. I have also reported the matter to Ulf Karlsson, who immediately saw through the falsehoods and has handed the matter over to Ulf Nilsson to handle on behalf of LiU. I strongly suggest that all responses are handled only by these two people. The trolls have invoked official complaints procedures and so everything will be thoroughly investigated, although I believe the complainants are having trouble formulating anything like a coherent case against anybody. As far as I am concerned, I can personally assure you that there is absolutely no case to answer for and the statements made are simply groundless innuendo based on erroneous information.

By way of a brief background, the complaint against me has been extrapolated from an issue about one figure in a paper that was accepted by one of the editors of a journal that I am Editor-In-Chief of. Although I obviously have responsibility for oversight of the journal, I could not possibly be expected to have spotted the alleged error in a paper that I did not process, regarding one electron micrograph, in a journal that handles well over 3 000 papers per year. On receiving notification of a possible error I immediately began the normal process of investigation and this is ongoing. Two days after I received the complaint the online campaign against me was started by Leonid Schneider, who incidentally has recently been convicted in a German court for his online activities. I then became aware of a second protagonist, [name removed, -LS]. Interestingly, this is a quote from Leonid Schneider about his colleague – “[name removed, -LS], who is in fact a rather unsavoury troll with an unhealthy obsession with my person, my site and my Twitter profile.” In a subsequent private e-mail, Schneider admitted that this own description of a [name removed, -LS] also fitted himself.

Here is the advice I received from Elsevier: “Both [name removed, -LS] and Leonid Schneider are quite toxic individuals. Please try to keep your contact with them to the absolute minimum. [Name removed, -LS] has also been “excluded” from one of our journals: [link removed, -LS]
Our ethics team had lots of cases with these two and advise to be extremely cautious as they tend to publicize any response they get (also out of context).”

[Identifying paragraph removed, -LS]

I hope that it is apparent from all of this that the utmost discretion is necessary in handling any correspondence regarding these individuals and their gutter-style online innuendo and dsitortions, and I look forward to a timely and robust official response from LiU in defence of its employees.

With very best regards and wishing you a happier Christmas than I am having.

Tony.”

It is not even very original to call me an “internet troll”, another English professor already did it, namely John Innes Centre director Dale Sanders. Looks like Turner got his response from LiU now, not sure if this is what he expected from them though. The university namely announced an investigation of Tiwari’s activities, with reference to my site, but without naming it.

screenshot-www.linkedin.com-2017-12-14-10-53-50
Turner awards fake professor Tiwari a prize, which Tiwari himself made up.

Allegations of misconduct and other impropriety to be investigated

A researcher formerly employed at Linköping University has been accused on an international website of fraud and scientific misconduct. LiU is taking action to determine whether there is any truth in these allegations. Their nature is such that two inquiries have been established: one to investigate alleged scientific misconduct, and one to investigate other alleged impropriety.

The allegations concern a scientist who arrived at Linköping University as a research fellow in 2011, and who left the employment at LiU in 2015. According to the information presented on an international website, the researcher has built up activities centred around predatory publishing, a non-existent research institute, and conferences held on cruise liners. It is claimed that these activities have been carried out from a small office in the vicinity of Linköping University, with fabricated employee presentations on its website.

It has been stated that the researcher has falsely described himself as a professor at Linköping University, and has presented Linköping University as co-organiser of several well-attended conferences. The income from the latter has allegedly passed directly to a company owned by the researcher.

The inquiries that have now been established are to investigate whether the accusations of impropriety and scientific misconduct are justified. They will also investigate whether other employees at the university have participated in the activities, and if so, in what way. The inquiry into scientific misconduct has started its work, while the inquiry into impropriety will start early in January.

“It is, of course, possible that others at the university have acted in good faith, and are now anxious about their relationship with the researcher who is the subject of the allegations,” says Ulf Nilsson, dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. “We take the issue of misconduct extremely seriously, and it’s good for everyone that we are bringing clarity to the situation.”

screenshot-mail.google.com-2017-12-20-22-37-07
Tiwari’s email, inviting entire IFM to Sweden-Japan Seminar on Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology (SJS-Nano), 10-11 September 2012. Note that while employed as Marie-Curie funded postdoc, Tiwari calls himself “assistant professor”, while advertising for his predatory journal. Noone inside the faculty minded.

Finally, it would be unfair to deny the word to the grand man himself, Ashutosh “Ashu” Tiwari, fake LiU professor, and most probably also a carrier of a phony PhD degree. As I learned from witnesses, Tiwari’s English is rather bad, one wonders if one of his charming yet imaginary assistants “Adeline Nilsson” or “Sophie Thompson” played the muse for this email he sent to quite a number of recipients from his IAAM account:

38 comments on “Christmas messages from Professor Turner, his ex-protégé under investigation Tiwari, and Elsevier

  1. The raw nerve of these guys is impressive, but I’m particularly interested in their attempt to seal themselves off from damaging facts via demanding an a priori refusal even to consider arguments, based on their source, even while acknowledging that the arguments MIGHT SOUND CONVINCING. It’s like religious fundamentalists demanding that evolution not be taught in schools, because it is not acceptable a priori, and the devil might dazzle us with his arguments so we should not be allowed to trust our own reason, our judgment. What a position for scientists to take…just trust us. Read no evil, see no evil…

    Like

  2. Hi Leonid
    Shouldn’t LiU take note of what happend at/to Karolinska Institutet once they started to block any attempts at investigation and accountabillity? Especially what happended at KI after they finally came clean, and what it took to finally come clean at all?
    It would be a real shame that it might require Turner to also step down to clean up that mess.
    Nice tenure position you have there Prof. Turner, would be a real shame if something happend to it?

    Cheers, oliver

    Like

  3. Pervasilam Iyer

    Mr. Tiwari has deleted all of his social media accounts including Facebook, Google Scholar Citation, ReseachGate, and Linkedin. Currently, Tiwari and his associate shamelessly attending conferences and delivering lectures in India.

    Like

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  5. Smut Clyde

    Someone might have archived the Google Cache version of his Google Scholar record.
    http://archive.is/XxcUs

    Like

  6. It is clear that Anthony Turner aided and abetted A. Tiwari by supporting his fake journals of VBRI (honorary Editor, Adv Mat lett,) issued praise for fake professor and his fake conferences on cruise lines and provided him employment in his lab, even after LIU job termination. Money transfers from VBRI to Turner and other LIU professors must be investigated (conflict of interest). Former members of Turner lab has a moral obligation to report to LIU Dean confidentially about their unethical issues. Turner must be held accountable for his misdeeds.

    Like

    • This is the reply I got from LiU registrar today:

      “we cannot find any information in our records concerning sideline activities (Swedish: bisysslor) of professor Anthony Turner related to Mr Tiwari, VBRI or IAAM”.

      Like

  7. Smut Clyde

    the laziest of all cheaters, Prashant Sharma

    Be fair. A lot of effort went into his hand-drawn spectra. You can’t blame him for using each one again and again.

    Like

  8. Nice to see that Turner and Tiwari are taking the high road here. The Trumpian paranoia is not surprizing, since each has some nice little money-spinners going. Biosensors and Bioelectronics asks almost $5K USD/year for subscription fees (institutions only), and presumably they have page charges as well, although these are not listed on their site (Elsevier is often cagey about that sort of thing). For a journal that churns out about 1000 papers/year, B&B has a tiny retraction rate: I could only find 5 papers retracted in total since the journal began. If you have >7000 pages to fill each year, you need the Tiwaris and Sharmas of this world.

    Like

  9. It is clear that many people unknowingly fell in to the trap of Mr. Tiwari. Their photo and names were used to the publicity of many of his conferences and misdeeds, but without any individual’s consent. He used different persons in different ways to his own benefit. Most of the trapped people were not aware and beneficiary of his misdeeds.

    Like

    • Jinder Mahal

      I was almost trapped in their web as well.
      I received many emails from VBRI press soliciting a review book chapter on my expertise field, and I was almost starting to write it, when at my request to extend the deadline, they (VBRI) did not answered at all. Then I did not submit chapter anymore.
      Plus, I got fooled and became a member of their society, I confess it, but for free (I did not paid anything) but at some point they asked me “compulsorily” a full paper for on of their journals to continue the free memebrship, but I did not. I am still able to log in in society web page. Actually would like to remove my membership, but it is impossible.
      Eventually, I received a lot of emails from the fake assistants of Tiwari soliciting me to attend their conferences and once, I confess, I was almost to the point to submit abstract and pay the fee, but due to real tight schedule I did not.
      Maybe I am very lucky! I wonder how many colleagues get fooled as well, since everything seemed legit.

      (J.M. is a nickname…I am based in Japan and I am not Indian)

      Like

  10. Hi Leonid,
    I’ve been following this story and, tine after time, it has become apparent that this Tiwari guys is a scammer. Sometimes people (such as Turner) forget that awarding ‘fake scientists’ such as his old post-doc means that another honest guy is left behind. It get me very angry thinking that this scammer got a Marie Curie, while other young scientists that did not get ahead by cheating (papers and diplomas) dis not. Also, I undestand Turner defending himself, but just by reading one of Tiwari papers, it was clear to me that this guy is clueless about science (and his poor english). I refuse to think that, a university professor, did not get this right away (they did not talk in his lab for 5+ years?!). If Turneres knew, he should step down for fraud, if he did not realize this, he should step down nevertheless for other incompetence.
    Finally, although you can be direct and a bit rough, Thanks Leonid!

    Like

  11. “…the best place to hide bulls**t is in a refereed journal that’s not open-access!” The math-physics blog n-category cafe digs into the curious case of M.S. El Naschie. El Naschie is editor-in-chief of the journal Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals, published by the well-respected scientific publisher Elsevier and sold to academic libraries for US$4,520 a year. The problem? El Naschie has published 322 of his own papers in the journal — papers that John Baez (of “This Week’s Finds in Mathematical Physics” and “The Crackpot Index”) describes as “vague, dreamlike imagery,” “undisciplined numerology larded with impressive buzzwords,” and “total baloney.” Is El Naschie a reverse Sokal? Or a Markov process for producing random publishable papers? One thing’s for sure — he knows how to cure cancer.
    posted byescabache on metafiter in 2008
    Epitaph for Turner and Tiwari (Adv Mat Lett) 2017

    Like

  12. Well, Tiwari’s journal does have an open access option, but I don’t know if it’s refereed by anyone but him:
    https://www.vbripress.com/aml/
    If you Google Ashutosh Tiwari books, he sure has a lot of co-authors as well. Nobody seems to read the books, however, judging from the lack of reviews. Not hard to understand, given the ridiculous prices on Amazon, etc. Clearly aimed at the unsuspecting college librarian.
    From all the contributors to his books, journals, meetings, etc. (most of whom get an award of some kind), it’s not difficult to see how Tiwari and co. assembled a large cohort of complaisant reviewers to OK their gibberish for publication.

    Like

    • Our library has payed for online access to the e-books at Wiley that Tiwari is an editor of. What is the difference between Wiley (or Elsevier) and the predatory publishers when they are the same people?

      Like

  13. Did A. Tiwari recommend his predatory books and journals to LIU?
    Did the library provide translation service of articles from foreign nanotech journals that found their way back into his articles?

    Like

  14. Good times Roll. Inano meeting Allahabad 2017

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  15. Before we crucify Elsevier, has anyone actually tried to follow their recommendations concerning the reporting of fraudulent research:
    https://www.elsevier.com/editors/perk/allegations-of-research-errors-and-fraud
    I think the problem we will have with B&B papers is that the process begins with the Editor in Chief.
    That obviously won’t fly here.

    Like

    • Obviously I will now cease all communication with Elsevier, my previous experience was very unsatisfactory already. You are welcome to try!

      Like

      • Elseviere does not scan papers or book-chapters with copy-paste identifieing software, I’ve seen one that looked like a pride parade after a scan that got through without problems.

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  16. Well, at least we don’t have the VBRI journals to worry about, because they are gone from the interweb. Registration for the Advanced Materials World Congress also appears to have gone somewhat wonky, but if you find the right buttons there are still places available on the great science cruise. If for some reason you are not an IAAM awardee, however, the price is a bit steep at >700$ USD (plus flight to Singapore). The congress is coming up soon, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. If deposits start to evaporate, we could have an old fashioned bunco/wire fraud case (payment accepted via wire transfer and PayPal). If that is so, I hope Tiwari et al. understand that they will being facing a lot more than a bit of PubPeer flak.

    Like

    • Smut Clyde

      I see that the AMWC lists the Royal Society of Chemistry among its “Organisers, Sponsors and Media Partners”. I wonder if they are aware of their sponsorship.
      The list of Media Partners also includes three MDPI journals, and the Nature Events Directory, but that only means that they accepted Tiwari’s advertisements.
      http://www.vbripress.com/amwc17/

      Apparently the Scientific Program will be up on-line before the end of 2017.

      Like

  17. Hahaha, there’s no ethics team at ifm 😀

    Like

  18. Rural Technology Force( RTF) scam continues in India by vbri press

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  19. Non governmental organization (NGO) scam Uttar Pradesh Ashutosh Tiwari google

    http://www.indianngos.org/ngo_detail.aspx?nprof=339792114

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  20. Predatory Conference brought to you by LIU whether they knew or not

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  21. I just found this delightful mail in my spam folder:

    “We are proud to announce an Virtual International Conference on – “Recent Research in Materials and Engineering” (RRME) being organized by Knewton Institute and will take place at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India., on 27th and 28th March- 2018.
    Paper should be presented through Skype or Gtalk.”

    These people sure never run out of new (knew?) ideas…

    Like

  22. Its horrible to read such a high level fraud but this is not surprising at all. I was a PhD student at IFM, LiU when Ashutosh Tiwari joined the department and to be very honest, after looking at his profile/CV that we got attached with the information about his introduction lecture at the department, my first impression was that it looks too good to be true. I went to his lecture with a lot of curiosity and excitement that I will listen to a young and very successful person but after listening to him a couple of minutes all my doubts about ‘too good to be true’ started to solidify themselves. Good to know after so many years that my sixth sense identified him correctly.

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  23. Abuse of Editorial duties by publishing 8 papers with image manipulaors Sharma, Mathuri from Allahabad (documented in PubPeer) in one issue (2017) is NOT PEER REVIEW
    8 items

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  24. ELSEVIER JOKE OF PEER REVIEW
    Recent advances in 2D bioelectronics.
    Osikoya AO, Tiwari A.
    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.10.022. Epub 2016 Oct 11. No abstract available.

    2.
    Acetylene-sourced CVD-synthesised catalytically active graphene for electrochemical biosensing.

    Osikoya AO, Parlak O, Murugan NA, Dikio ED, Moloto H, Uzun L, Turner AP, Tiwari A.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):496-504. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.03.063. Epub 2016 Mar 25.

    3.
    Stimuli-enabled zipper-like graphene interface for auto-switchable bioelectronics.

    Mishra S, Ashaduzzaman M, Mishra P, Swart HC, Turner APF, Tiwari A.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):305-311. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.03.052. Epub 2016 Mar 22.

    4.
    Structuring Au nanoparticles on two-dimensional MoS2 nanosheets for electrochemical glucose biosensors.

    Parlak O, İncel A, Uzun L, Turner APF, Tiwari A.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):545-550. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.03.024. Epub 2016 Mar 13.

    5.
    2-Dimensional graphene as a route for emergence of additional dimension nanomaterials.

    Patra S, Roy E, Tiwari A, Madhuri R, Sharma PK.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):8-27. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.02.067. Epub 2016 Feb 28. Review.
    6.
    Introduction of selectivity and specificity to graphene using an inimitable combination of molecular imprinting and nanotechnology.

    Roy E, Patra S, Tiwari A, Madhuri R, Sharma PK.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):234-248. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.02.056. Epub 2016 Feb 23. Review.
    7.
    Single cell imprinting on the surface of Ag-ZnO bimetallic nanoparticle modified graphene oxide sheets for targeted detection, removal and photothermal killing of E. Coli.

    Roy E, Patra S, Tiwari A, Madhuri R, Sharma PK.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):620-626. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2015.12.085. Epub 2015 Dec 29.

    8.
    Graphene quantum dots decorated CdS doped graphene oxide sheets in dual action mode: As initiator and platform for designing of nimesulide imprinted polymer.

    Patra S, Roy E, Choudhary R, Tiwari A, Madhuri R, Sharma PK.

    Biosens Bioelectron. 2017 Mar 15;89(Pt 1):627-635. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2015.12.053. Epub 2015 Dec 18.

    Like

  25. Pingback: How scam artist Ashutosh Tiwari played Linköping University – For Better Science

  26. Pingback: How Elsevier finds its peer reviewers – For Better Science

  27. Jörn Kersten

    The PDF of the 2015 LiU report that you link above
    (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0By2HqPi4t2RbczctR2g4MTVNYkZtVjdnYVdFdVVveVpFZk9V) does not support your claim that the investigation was terminated because Tiwari’s employment had ended. Instead, it’s stated that the investigation did not find sufficient evidence for wrongdoing (“Conclusively, none of the information presented to the university or discovered during the investigation gives evidence of, or indicates scientific misconduct.”) What happened here?

    Like

    • Good point! It is in fact Dean Ulf Nilsson who apparently said that, quote from the newspaper Corren:
      “Redan 2015 höll Nilsson en liknande utredning mot forskaren som avslutades utan resulat, i samband med att forskarens anställningstid var slut.”
      “By 2015, Nilsson conducted a similar investigation against the researcher, which was terminated without results, in connection with the termination of the researcher’s term of office”.
      Btw, we might see some results soon: https://liu.se/en/news-item/har-inte-varit-professor

      Like

      • Jörn Kersten

        I see, that’s weird. Note that these are not Nilsson’s words in the Corren article, though, but those of the journalist.

        In any case, I count on you updating us once the “interim results” are out. 😉

        Like

  28. Pingback: Linköping University and Tiwari’s predatory conferences – For Better Science

  29. Pingback: The adventures of Gui and Hui in Nano-land – For Better Science

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