The Swedish Linköping University (LiU) finished their first investigation of the affair of their former scientist Ashutosh Tiwari and his ongoing predatory conferences. The bureaucrats, busy covering their own professional failures, found that nobody among the grown-up men they investigated was actually responsible for their own behaviour, not even Tiwari:
“there is no need to proceed with a police report with regard to the currently external person whose conduct gave rise to the investigation”.
That we learn from the official decision letter I obtained. A newspaper article tells that the fake LiU professor Tiwari, whose academic credentials consisted of a shaky doctorate diploma, fake and now retracted papers with his friend from Allahabad in India, Prashant Sharma, and most prominently, oodles of papers in Tiwari’s own predatory journals, was about to be appointed a real professor at LiU in December 2017. That was thanks to a Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet, VR) grant which Tiwari was rather illegally part of and which LiU still happily enjoys. My two December 2017 articles on Tiwari’s fraud and scamference activities, and my notification to LiU, came in a nick of time and prevented the faculty appointment.
Now, those exactly same LiU bureaucrats who over the past years have been happily rubber-stamping all Tiwari’s shady diploma and certificates, oiling his inappropriate academic appointments and unquestioningly paying out public money for his predatory activities, investigated the scandal which they themselves contributed to, and decided that nobody was really to blame but the system in general. The deal, as it emerges form the official decision letter, seems: Tiwari never uses LiU logo and “trademark” again and they let him organise anything he wants 200km away in Stockholm.
Tiwari’s business associate at LiU, Mikael Syväjärvi, who even this year was organising scamferences on cruise ships and ferries while officially at his workplace at LiU, receives not even a reprimand and is to be merely educated:
“to ensure that it is appropriately recalled about the obligations arising from being a university employee in particular regarding the management of side activities and the management of the institutional’s resources”.
Others are criticised only very mildly, like Tiwari’s former patron and head of Biosensors section at Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology at LiU, Anthony “Tony” Turner, who retired earlier this year:
“Turner’s actions can be said to be considered as acts of negligence in both his mentorship and in his leadership, and his actions have thus contributed to the emerging situation. Even in Turner’s case, his conduct may have been affected by the fact that his perception was that it was acceptable in the light of the established order at the institution. Thus, Turner’s actions in this part can not be said to be a conscious act of individual character, but rather seems to reflect a part of the then management culture at the institution.”
Another responsible, the department’s former prefekt Ulf Karlsson, and 3 more senior people have retired also. Case closed, lesson learned. LiU investigators conclude that no crime took place and there is nothing to report to police because
“it can not be established that these actions were carried out deliberately to achieve individual profit”.
And because LiU bureaucrats found themselves and everyone else involved blameless, nobody has to be named when the conclusions of the investigation were announced. Basically, after having helped Tiwari build his scamference empire, LiU is so far happy to let him continue and absolutely does not want to alert the international scientific community. This is also why LiU never links or names my site.
There is however another investigation ongoing at LiU, into Tiwari’s research misconduct, led by the Dean Ulf Nilsson. There is enough actual research fraud for Nilsson’s team to dig through, especially because Tony Turner is Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal Biosensors & Bioelectronics, where several of Tiwari’s and his Allahabad mate Sharma’s fraudulent papers were published, and now retracted. But also Tiwari’s scamference activities with Syväjärvi might become an issue after all.
Tiwari now hides under the drag queen name of “Luna Roy” when inviting unsuspecting (or unscrupulous) scientists to his pricey World Congresses of Things He Googled on Internet. To assist the investigations, Tiwari geo-blocked all websites advertising for his scamferences in a way that they could not be accessed or searched from Sweden. At the same, the predatory conferences have been and still are taking place in Stockholm, often several of them simultaneously in one single conference room on a Baltic ferry ship.
Even my regular writer-contributor Smut Clyde was tempted to participate, as he commented on my site:
“The Mariella ferry is going to be busy on the long weekend 4th-7th November. The Conference room will be hosting
1. WCPST 2018-World Congress on Plasma Science and Technology.
2. International Conference on Catalysis Science, Engineering & Technology (ICSET 2018).
3. Advanced Energy Materials World Congress (AEMWC) – itself consisting of 8 simultaneous symposia:
Solar Cells and Photovoltaics
Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Thermal Energy
Energy Storage, Conversion & Grid Modernization
Graphene and 2D Energy Materials
Energy Technology For Fossil Fuels and CO2
Nuclear Energy Materials
Green Energy Materials
I hope everyone doesn’t speak at once.”
As soon as the investigation ended, Tiwari’s other scam business, his predatory publishing outlet, returned to listing the papers it allegedly published. So we learn that even Robert Hurt, nanomaterials professor at Brown University in USA, who once once a prominent guest at Tiwari’s scamference, seems to be publishing there. Hurt did not reply to my emails, so I guess he is happy with the new paper from his lab, even if no pdf is available unless you pay Tiwari.
My information about the outcomes of the LiU investigation comes mostly from this article in the local newspaper Corren. We learn that LiU transferred in total SEK 214,979 (€21000) onto Tiwari’s account, but it is not clear if any extramural grant money, eg from VR grants, was accounted in this way. So the actual sum the Swedish taxpayer was defrauded on might be much higher. This bit from the Corren article is quite striking:
“The investigators describe, among other things, that the researcher [Tiwari, -LS] seems to have part of the package when an international professor [Turner, LS] was recruited. The investigators could not find the researcher’s name in the minutes of the University’s Employment Board when he was employed in 2011. When the researcher’s employment expired in 2015, he remained for two more years through various creative solutions. Foreign researchers need residence permits. The form for the Migration Board stated that that man’s research was fully financed by two companies who were his own [Tiwari’s phony research institutions VBRI and IAAM, -LS]. An extension of his employment was sent by e-mail, but never formalized more than that. The professor who first employed him was retired in 2017 [Turner, -LS], but he did not adjust the researcher’s employment. Instead, researcher’s co-applicants were successful with their proposal for research money grant with the Swedish Research Council, which made him employable as adjunct professor at LiU. It was at the end of December 2017. The recruitment process stopped when the charges against the man were published on the international blog”.
The investigative group at LiU consisted of the registrar Elias Gustafsson, HR official Maria Hellman, Controller Annamaria Lindegaard, and University Attorney Caroline Taube. Their speaker was Internal Auditor Mattias Pettersson. Also HR Director Pia Rundgren, Chief Legal Advisor Christina Helmer and Planning and Finance Director Agneta Frode Blomberg participated in the investigation.
Basically, all those people were investigating their own failure. It was the registrar, the controller, the HR and legal departments whose actual job it is to make sure such scams and embezzlements like in Tiwari’s case do not happen at LiU. These people were supposed to oversee Tiwari’s recruitment from 2011 which happened behind the University’s Employment Board’s back, or his docent habilitation later on. They should have wondered what the heck was Tiwari doing with his own office at LiU two years after his employment officially ended. They were supposed to check whether his PhD degree and other diploma were real or worth anything. They were expected to ring alarm bells when bills from predatory conferences were to be paid out to Tiwari’s phony companies VBRI and IAAM. Finally, these people did not give a flying toss when Turner’s students complained to them about Tiwari’s fraud, bullying and theft of their own data.
So any wonder that these bureaucrats absolved Tiwari, Syväjärvi and Turner, as if they were little children not responsible for their bad behaviour?
But of course it is not fair to say the investigative bureaucrats at LiU don’t care about anything but whether there are enough cookies to go with their morning tea. Same Pia Rundgren can be quite proactive in her capacity as HR director when a LiU whistleblower is to be bullied and silenced.
When LiU biomaterials researcher Jaywant Phopase published a well-argued, objective guest post on my site, where he protested bad science and data misappropriation by another former LiU scientist, May Griffith, Rundgren engaged in a form of blackmail. She demanded that Phopase makes me remove from my site the institutional affiliation I added to his name. She even explicitly refused to request anything of me, but increased pressure on Phopase instead. LiU’s Chief Legal Advisor Christina Helmer saw absolutely nothing wrong with what I personally felt to be a form of a hostage-taking situation in order to blackmail a journalist. For more, read the updates to the relevant article.
Also it would be unfair to see the registrar Gustafsson as a lazy bureaucrat who doesn’t care about anything. He gave me much trouble with the Griffith documents (which I now published as update), and now in Tiwari’s case, Gustafsson finally had enough of me sticking my nose into things which are his and not my business.
By Swedish law, the person who reported a case to the university must be informed of the outcome of investigation, free of charge and in a language they can understand. Here however the registrar Gustafsson (he was also one of named investigators) chose to obstruct. He declared to me namely:
“Linköping university does not consider you a party in the case with ref. no. LiU-2018-00114”
This is peculiar, because his own report and all LiU press releases point to my site as the source, without naming it of course. Maybe Gustaffson wants to credit himself for uncovering and investigating Tiwari’s fraud? In any case, Gustaffson insisted that the decision letter which is addressed to Tiwari, Turner and Syväjärvi, exist in Swedish only:
“There is no English translation.“
That would be actually illegal, because Tiwari and Turner don’t speak enough Swedish. It is not the only case when Gustafsson told me untruths. The full report, which is 41 pages, was declared by Gustaffson to exist in Swedish only as of the afternoon of 25 October 2018
“At the time of writing there exists no English version or unofficial translation of the report published on Monday. A request has been made to have it translated as soon as possible, but we don’t know when the translation will be finished and if it definitely will be created (at this point it is simply a request).”
The next morning, a English version of the full report suddenly appeared out of nowhere:
“For your information, an English translation of the report has been produced. Please note that if there’s any discrepancy between the contents of the Swedish and English versions, the Swedish version takes precedence.“
I confronted Gustafsson with his pathetic claim that the 41-page translation was done overnight. He then decided that the translation was available all along, but that he was not aware of that.
In any case, I never got the report. Gustafsson wanted me to pay for it, to be delivered by mail. Probably printed with a broken printer out of ink and sent by a special reindeer courier sometime next year. This was what Gustaffson, the Tiwari investigator wrote to me as explanation:
“no obligation is placed upon Swedish government agencies to issue copies of public documents in electronic media. Linköping University has adopted a local policy regarding the electronic issuance of public documents. In accordance with said policy, we have determined that the report in question should not be sent electronically”.
He later added:
“Linköping university has no cause nor right to treat your request differently to anyone else’s.”
Exactly, who am I. Some nameless blogger who prevented Gustafsson, Rundgren and Helmer from saluting their new professor Tiwari on daily basis.
Corren quoted Tiwari with this, re-translated from Swedish:
“I have never called myself a professor at Linköping University. I have professor titles at other institutes. I am subjected to a conspiracy and I have been subjected to accusations from an internet troll. We used the LiU logo at conferences after a colleague had received a grant that also went to LiU. There were no bad intentions with this. I continue the business with conferences, but this investigation meant that I have lost a lot.”
LiU now found Tiwari guilty of research miscodnuct. Today’s press release:
Researcher criticised for research misconduct
The board of the Faculty of Science and Engineering has levelled serious criticism against a previous LiU researcher, considering that he can be held accountable for misconduct in at least three scientific articles. An investigation has shown that images have been manipulated and/or copied in all three articles. The researcher is criticised also for misuse of titles and affiliations, and for giving misleading information about his role and activities in several contexts.
“This has been an extensive investigation into research misconduct, which is the term used to describe actions that lead to manipulated or falsified research results, or that provide misleading information about who has carried out the research. We have, however, also investigated breaches of good research practice”, says Ulf Nilsson, dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
In December 2017, several people used social media to raise accusations of fraud and research misconduct against the researcher in question – a previous employee of Linköping University. In the period 2011-2015, this person was initially employed as non-tenured assistant professor, and then as fixed-term senior lecturer. After this, he was affiliated with LiU as guest researcher until July 2017.
The accusations claim that the researcher had built up activities that encompassed, among other things, predatory scientific conferences and journals, and mock-up research institutes and organisations. He had, furthermore, used fake titles and fake degrees. The criticism also contained information about suspected research misconduct.
The criticism was of such a nature that the faculty initiated a preliminary investigation, which was subsequently expanded to a more extensive investigation concerning research misconduct, under the leadership of the dean, Ulf Nilsson. At the same time, a parallel investigation was initiated into alleged impropriety that was not connected to research. The conclusions of this latter investigation were presented earlier in the autumn.
Several of the articles that were the target of criticism were from the period before the researcher arrived at Linköping University. These have not been considered by the investigation, but the final report contains a request from the investigation group that a complete review of these article be carried out by the institutions and journals concerned.
Of the remaining articles, five were considered to have such flaws that a deeper investigation was required. One of these was dismissed from the investigation after comparison with the original data. Four articles were submitted to external reviewers in June 2018. These reviewers describe several examples of highly questionable graphics and other graphical elements, and conclude that this is a result of planned scientific fraud and malpractice.
Two of the articles investigated have already been retracted by the journal concerned, and the faculty board considers that a third should also be retracted. With respect to the fourth article, the faculty board has chosen to await the results from the national expert group for misconduct in research at the Central Ethical Review Board.
In the case the fifth article, this is not assessed to be a case of research misconduct, but the faculty board is of the opinion that it represents deviation from good research practice.
The investigation also criticises the researcher for the misuse of titles and affiliations. He has in several contexts presented himself in a manner that could be interpreted to mean that he is a professor at Linköping University – something he has never been.
The researcher has also played a key role in several organisations, institutes and publishing companies that he has set up. These activities have also been criticised. It has not been possible for the investigation group to carry out a complete examination of these, but the group concludes that the researcher has in several cases wanted to give the impression of having significantly more extensive operations than was actually the case. Through semi-truths and in some cases pure fabrications, the position and activity of the researcher have been exaggerated.
The investigation has also shown that the researcher, in his role as conference organiser, has used as bait in the marketing not only logos from highly renowned organisations, but also claims of collaboration from established researchers, without their consent.
Update 20.12.2018. The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) rejects my complaint and decides that LiU has uncovered and investigated the Tiwari affair correctly and entirely without any input or evidence from my side. Moreover, they stated that the English version of the investigative report I was offered for a fee, actually does not exist. Apparently UKÄ certified Tiwari a near-native Swedish proficiency or something. This is the decision no. 31-00466-18 in Swedish, I was given this summary by Carl Braunerhielm:
“- The authority cannot retry decisions made by a higher education institution (HEI).
– The authority does not comment on matters that may be tried by a court or another authority.
– Criminal investigations are conducted by police. If you believe that a crime has been commited, you should report it to the police.
– The authority cannot retry a university’s decision on a case of scientific misconduct. The authority can however review how a university handles investigations of scientific misconduct.
– Linköping university is not required to translate the report you requested to English as the report does not involve you (please refer to article 13 of the Administrative Procedure Act, Swedish: 13 § förvaltningslagen [2017:900]).
– The university is not required to provide the report in digital form unless stipulated by law (please refer to chapter 2 article 13 of the Freedom of Press Act, Swedish: 2 kap. 13 § tryckfrihetsförordningen and the court case RÅ 2008 not 72). This matter may be tried by a court. As previously mentioned, The Swedish Higher Education Auhtority does not comment on matters that may be tried by a court.
– An authority that releases copies of a document is required to charge a fee if the document consists of ten pages or more as stipulated by articles 15 and 16 of the administrative fees ordinance (Swedish: 15-16 §§ avgiftsförordningen [1992:191]). This matter may be tried by a court. As previously mentioned, The Swedish Higher Education Auhtority does not comment on matters that may be tried by a court.
– In summary, the Swedish Higher Education Authority does not find reason to investigate your complaint.”
Another letter arrived from UKÄ, where the legal counsel Tanja Lindqvist lists my complaints, then rejects them all without explanation, the decision is final. In a follow up email she added:
“UKÄ decided that the fact that you were the notifier, does not mean that you are a “party” of the case and therefore do not have a legal right to recieve the report.”
Lindqvist refused to say how one qualifies as a “party” to investigation. It seems UKÄ decided that LiU investigated the Tiwari affair independently, without any information input from my side, and that I was just a meddling email spammer. No conflicts of interest were established in the fact that the people involved in Tiwari’s employment and financing of his predatory publishing and scamferences investigated themselves.
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