The predatory conferences organised by the team around Ashutosh Tiwari, fake professor of Linköping University (LiU) in Sweden, became now a comparatively modest affair, after my reporting set several misconduct investigations at LiU in motion and even alerted Swedish and international media. Tiwari stopped pretending being a LiU professor and even ceased signing his conference invitations. Internet announcements for his conference scams became rather minimalistic, while conference programmes or lists of speakers are not released to participants and are apparently arranged on the spot.
Since my last reporting on the Tiwari case, several things happened. Tiwari’s patron, LiU professor Anthony “Tony” Turner retired from this faculty position, his former division at LiU’s Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology (IFM) is has a new head. Turner now works with a biotech start-up Innovosens, in Malmö, Sweden, and remains Editor-in-Chief of his Elsevier journal, Biosensors and Bioelectronics. And it was in this journal that his former protégé Tiwari suffered two retractions, from a 2017 journal issue which he himself edited, no less. Even Turner’s boasting of full support by Elsevier against troll accusations didn’t protect Tiwari. All thanks to his data-faking friend from Allahabad, Prashant Sharma, whose seven papers were now mass-retracted just from Biosensors and Bioelectronics alone, following the guest post on my site by Smut Clyde.
LiU issued two press releases (here and here) to announce investigations and that Tiwari was never their professor, yet the university proved unable to dissociate itself from Tiwari’s predatory conferences as of yet. Mikael Syväjärvi, Tiwari’s probably closest business associate, was permitted to continue run their predatory conference and publishing business while officially at his work place as LiU employee. At least Syväjärvi doesn’t present himself as professor anymore, as he occasionally used to.
Two conferences organised by Tiwari’s phony International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM, which basically consists of him and his wife in a small rented office in Linköping) took place in 2018. One, the Advanced Materials World Congress, on February 4th-8th 2018 on a cruise ship from Singapore, where Syväjärvi himself documented his participation on Facebook.
The other event was the European Advanced Energy Materials Congress, on a Baltic cruise ship from Stockholm on March 24th-28th 2018, where a participant wrote to me that Syväjärvi was indeed there, photographing most of the time. According to this witness, the IFM scientist “seemed a main administrative responsible guy there“, also a former PhD student of Turner’s, Prashant Mishra was “very active in the administration and organisation of the conference“.
Tiwari and Syväjärvi still organise their conferences, as per established protocol, together with the third man of their scamming triumvirate, the IAAM president Hisatoshi Kobayashi, employed as group leader at the National Institute for Material Science in Tsukuba, Japan. Now that Tiwari’s name and his fake professorship became somewhat tainted, and Turner is definitely not available anymore, Professor Kobayashi stepped in as official organiser of the March 2018 boating scam.
Tiwari’s success secret is playing at academics’ vanity. All he had to do to get their (well, public) money was to promise them a medal or an award of his phony IAAM, and they flocked to pick it up. Their universities readily paid rip-off fees for accommodation and registration into Tiwari & Co pockets, some even proudly posted the news of their scientists being awarded with useless junk which Tiwari invented. Because, a shiny thingy awarded with some wah-wah in Stockholm by a fake professor pretending to be a President of a fake institute and a fake international association, sounds almost as if it was a Nobel Prize. Just last year, it was one of main Italian daily newspapers, La Repubblica, which breathlessly wrote in August 2017 about ERC-grant winning “Italian magician of new materials”:
“He is 46 years old and works for eight years at the Italian Institute of Technology. Liberato Manna wins the EAM Award, a prestigious award given by the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) to the most influential European researcher in the field of new materials. The prize will be awarded on August 22 in Stockholm (Sweden) by an international jury on the basis of publications and research grant data from over the past ten years”.
Back then, one could still pretend (based on the rigged participants and organisers lists) that Tiwari’s scam conferences were serious scientific events. But for the last two cruise ship events, no organising committees were named or programme made available in advance, in the worst predatory scamster tradition. Scientists had no more excuse to play being fooled: they simply went because they were promised a shiny medal. One PhD student followed the medal call to the Singapore cruise in February 2018, enthusiastically supported by his professor, a dean at a German university. Both soon apologetically withdraw their staunch support of Tiwari’s award-giving activities after their university’s Ombudsman educated them what a predatory conference is.
Not all academic institutions figured it out yet. Universidade NOVA de Lisboa in Portugal celebrated their award-winning postdoc in a news statement, while Universita degli Studi di Messina had their chemistry professor Candida Milone to show for.
LiU work ethics
I previously experienced that LiU is very concerned about how their scientists behave in public. LiU scientist Jaywant Phopase (incidentally, originally from the same IFM department Syväjärvi works in and Tiwari used to) sent me his open letter to be published on my site,. In this letter Phopase expressed his concerns of having his research results stolen and misinterpreted by former LiU professor May Griffith who left for Canada after being found guilty of research misconduct. What LiU then did, via their HR Director Pia Rundgren, was to pressure Phopase to make sure I remove his institutional affiliation which I myself added after his name. Basically, LiU made Phopase responsible for what I write on my site, instead of helping him defend his and in fact LiU’s intellectual property from being stolen by a dishonest former LiU professor. Eventually, the affiliation conflict was resolved by my added disclaimer that Phopase’s open letter “does not necessarily represent the official view of LiU“. This Swedish university apparently doesn’t condone their scientists protesting in public about data theft and patient abuse, at least not under their work affiliation.
What LiU apparently did not mind at all, was Syväjärvi flying to Singapore in February 2018 and organising Tiwari’s scam conference on a cruise ship for the purpose of personal enrichment, using his LiU affiliation. I asked IFM dean Ulf Nilsson if Syväjärvi at least had to take a vacation and travel privately. This was what Nilsson told me:
“The department hasn’t found any documentation on this, which suggests that he has not been there on vacation. Nor is he on sick leave. There might be a verbal approval from his superior to travel but there seems to be no written travel order”.
Nilsson then clarified:
“His superior is Örjan Danielsson (head of division) and Mattias Severin (head of department).“
Basically, LiU did not prevent Syväjärvi to go operate his shady business on the Southeast-Asian seas while he was officially at his faculty workdesk in Linköping, emplyoed by the Swedish tax payer. Syväjärvi apparently then pulled off exactly same leave of absence trick for the cruise ship conference in the Baltic sea, in March 2018. His superiors were OK with it, apparently also the university.
Requesting a university employee to actually appear at work instead of boarding some cruise ship to scam some gullible or vain scientists was apparently out of the question. Coercion and threat of disciplinary consequences is something LiU apparently only deploys when its scientists denounce misconduct in public. Both LiU press and legal offices refused to comment on their permissive attitude towards Syväjärvi’s side activities. LiU Deputy Registrar Ann Holmlid wrote me in this regard:
“[the issue] is covered by on-going investigations. At this moment LiU is not in a position to comment or discuss these investigations.”
Since April 1st, Syväjärvi is only partially employed at LiU, as he announced on LinkedIn. LiU registrar Livia Piniesjö confirmed to me:
“Mikael Syväjärvi is employed at Linköping University and the reason for his current leave of absence is working 40% as a material expert at Innovative Materials Arena in Linköping which is supported by the EU and Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth”.
Next event: August 2018
Thus, it will still be the Swedish or even EU taxpayer whose salary Syväjärvi will receive while organising and attending his next predatory conference with Tiwari. Here is an announcement which was forwarded to me:
Dear Dr. XXXXX,
We are delighted to invite you to join as a “Committee Member” and deliver “INVITED TALK” in the European Advanced Materials Congress 2018, Sweden (EAMC 2018, www.iaamevents.org/eamc18) during 20 – 23 August 2018, Sweden and solicit your advice, recommendations and supports for the grand success of this congress. Please send us your consent by 28 February 2018 using the YES or NO options:
YES – I would like to join as a Committee Member and deliver a INVITED TALK in the European Advanced Materials Congress 2018, Sweden
NO – I am unable to join as a Committee Member and deliver a INVITED TALK in the European Advanced Materials Congress 2018, Sweden
The Committee Member will get complementary membership of IAAM for 5 years. Please read benefits and other info, CLICK HERE (www.iaamonline.org/page/membership)
Please note that it is purely academic contribution and organisers will not pay any honorarium for this service and you will responsible for the payment of your own registration fees, accommodation and travel etc. However, you can avail IAAM supports a maximum 50% reduction in your registration fee for “Committee Member and INVITED SPEAKER”.
The conference will be host on the Conference Centre, M/S Mariella, Viking Line Cruise ship cruising from Stockholm (Sweden) – Helsinki (Finland) – Stockholm (Sweden) during 20 – 23 August 2018, Sweden. The conference will bring an amazing experience of cruise hospitality and visit two capital cities of Scandinavia, with allusion of the beautiful views of Stockholm archipelago (sailing through nearly 30,000 islands) in the autumn.
The Role of the Committee of Scientific Advisors:
To advise the conference organising committee on scientific matters including suggesting topics for sub/sessions, recommend speakers, etc.
To encourage student, researchers, colleagues and collaborators to participate in the conference.
To track developments of conference activities.
To assist to make grand success of conference, as appropriate, through public speaking, professional work, and outreach to contact networks.
For more details, please visit our website, www.iaamevents.org/eamc18
We look forward to hearing from you and it will certainly be our pleasure and honor to welcome you in Sweden.
With Best Regards
European Advanced Materials Congress 2018, Sweden
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Update 1.05.2018. Seems Kobayashi is in a bit of a pickle with his employer now. Kazuhiro Hono, Executive Vice President of National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, wrote me this:
“Thank you very much for sending us your recent blog article on predatory
conferences organized by Ashutosh Tiwari. We regret to hear that one of
NIMS staff members, Hisatoshi Kobayashi, was involved in the organization
of the fake conferences. We decided to investigate this case carefully and
will get back to you in a week.
In the mean time, as executive vice president of NIMS, I ordered Hisatoshi
Kobayashi to resign from the president of IAAM immediately and not to be
involved in this community in the future”.
Update 23.10.2018. Linköping University conducted their investigation and saw absolutely nothing wrong with Tiwari’s past or ongoing conferences, except the use of LiU association. Syväjärvi was explicitly NOT investigated. From the press release:
“The investigation team notes that even if errors occurred, it has not been demonstrated that there has been wilful misconduct or gross negligence, which is required for criminal liability. The researcher [Tiwari, -LS] is also requested not to use LiU brand any longer. The report recommends that police should not be involved. […]
A separate investigation of scientific misconduct is still ongoing and will be announced when it completed its work.“