The nanofabricator Sheshanath Bhosale used to be junior faculty in two Australian universities before returning to India as professor. A long list of his papers was flagged by Cheshire for fake data, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT, where Bhosale was an ARC Future Fellow) followed Monash University and performed an investigation, ordering several retractions. These retraction requests are being steadily converted into corrections by Bhosale, likely because RMIT chose not to sanction him at all. The papers faked themselves, Bhosale is officially innocent and fully supported by his Indian employer. And so are his two brothers and partners-in-fraud.
The results of the RMIT investigation were apparently not supposed to become public, the university never replied to my questions. Also Bhosale’s Goa University remains uninterested in the RMIT report. So I will publish RMIT’s draft report here. Because if an Australian university found itself unable to find former tenure-track fellow guilty of any research misconduct, what can you expect when a full professor is investigated.
Bhosale did his PhD in organic chemistry at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin in Germany, supervised by the (now retired) chemistry professor Jürgen-Hinrich Fuhrhop. He then did postdoc in the lab of chemistry professor Stefan Matile at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. After that, Bhosale was lecturer at the Monash University in Australia before in 2011 gaining the 6 year ARC Future Fellowship to go to RMIT. As it happens, Shesh’s brother Sidhanath Bhosale, now principal scientist at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, also did PhD under Fuhrhop in Berlin, followed by postdoc at the University of Geneva, supervised by Matile’s collaborator, the assistant professor Kelly Velonia (who then moved to Crete). Yet another Bhosale brother, Rajesh Bhosale, now chemistry professor at Indrashil University in India, did his PhD in Geneva under Matile’s supervision.
I am telling you this because it’s all three Bhosale brothers who published those fraudulent papers together. But apparently none of them was ever found guilty of anything.
The report begins with:
“It is alleged that Professor Sheshanath Bhosale has published several articles that misrepresent research data through manipulation of figures.
Professor Bhosale is regarded as the primary respondent for this matter as he is a common author on each of the articles that are the subject of this complaint. Professor Bhosale was a researcher at RMIT University at the time the research was conducted and declared his affiliation to RMIT University in the research outputs.
The complainant is an anonymous user of the online PubPeer review platform.”
The complainant was Cheshire, an image integrity sleuth who comments on PubPeer as Actinopolyspora biskrensis. Elisabeth Bik was, according to the RMIT report, recruited as an external forensic expert for all 12 investigated papers.
The investigation began in May 2021 and ended in March 2022. Three investigators were appointed: Paul Mulvaney, materials chemistry professor at the University of Melbourne, and two RMIT researchers, the materials chemist Joel van Embden and the biochemical nanotechnologist Charlotte Conn. These two jumped in for two other initially appointed RMIT investigators, Adam Lee and Karen Wilson, who had to be replaced due to conflicts of interests, being collaborators or close colleagues of Bhosale.
Let’s see what the RMIT team found, I provide comments and illustrations:
“The third function of the Panel was, ‘If a breach, or breaches, of the principles and responsibilities of the Australian Code and/or RMIT Policy are found, to recommend appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary actions.’
With regard to the research record, the Panel recommends that:”
Kamalakar P. Nandre, Sheshanath V. Bhosale, K. V. S. Rama Krishna, Akhil
Guptac and Sidhanath V. Bhosale “A phosphonic acid appended naphthalene diimide motif for self-assembly into tunable nanostructures through molecular recognition with arginine in water,” Chemical Communications, (2013) doi: 10.1039/C3CC41259H
It has two out of the three Bhosale brothers as authors. Quite possibly one of them commented on PubPeer anonymously:
“I do not agree with Mr./Ms. Actinopolyspora Biskrensis (#1). At first glance it looks these are serious allegations but when I used magnifying glass and examined dot to dot I found following points which Mr./Ms. Actinopolyspora Biskrensis (#1) overlooked…“
The Goa professor Shesh Bhosale informed me regarding this and other forgeries that he doesn’t intend to retract anything:
He might succeed, also with this paper, featuring all three Bhosale brothers, where RMIT investigators decided:
Tanuja Yeluri, Rajesh S. Bhosale, Namdev V. Ghule, Aaron M. Raynor, Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Sheshanath V. Bhosale “Neomycin and gentamicin detection via molecular recognition with cyclam-decorated gold nanoparticles,” Supramolecular Chemistry, (2015) doi: 10.1080/10610278.2015.1071819
An anonymous Bhosale sockpuppet commented on PubPeer:
“As I overview comments and images of Figure 1 in original and false color, which clearly shows these images are not repeated images in Figure 1, if one look closely it clearly shows green spot of middle (false color) of yellow @ left hand side totally different and yellow color of image show in false color also totally different. It may perhaps, authors may have taken images separately and joint together as a Figure.“
RMIT decided on retraction nevertheless, yet in a similar case they decreed:
Tanuja Yeluri, Namdev V. Ghule, Rajesh S. Bhosale, Mohammad Al Kobaisi, Sheshanath V. Bhosale and Sidhanath V. Bhosale “Wheel like supramolecular assembly of cyclam decorated gold nanoparticles induced by Cd2+,” RSC Advances,(2015) doi: 10.1039/C5RA00777A
Bhosale initially stated regarding this fake figure on PubPeer:
“Sample of GNPs are the same in each tube with addition of various metal ions, thus, it looks similar because no changes observed, which also can be seen by UV-vis absorption in the manuscript.“
Thing is, towards his former academic employer Bhosale admitted this data forgery, as the RMIT report mentions:
“The Respondent has conceded to manipulation of figures in two research outputs (Paper 3, Paper 8, and an output investigated by Monash University) and issued corrections to those papers”
The publisher eagerly issued a Correction on 26 March 2022:
“The authors regret the 11 identical photographs for the vials containing Cd2+, Ni2+, Fe3+, Ba2+, Co2+, Cr2+, Cu2+, Pb2+, Zn2+, Mg2+ and Mn2+ ions in aqueous media in Fig. S7 which were included in the ESI in error. This was as a result of separate photographs being taken of each vial and 11 identical photographs then being combined in Fig. S7 in error. The authors were unable to provide unedited images for each solution and therefore the experiment was reproduced demonstrating the same colour changes.”
Why RMIT was perfectly happy to see this fraudulent paper corrected for the same type of image fraud as the one they decided to retract, can only be explained with laziness on the part of both investigators and journal editors.
The next decision was even stranger:
Rananaware Anushri, Abraham Amanda N., La Duong Duc, Mistry Vishal, Shukla Ravi, Bhosale Sheshanath V. “Synthesis of a Tetraphenylethene-Substituted Tetrapyridinium Salt with Multifunctionality: Mechanochromism, Cancer Cell Imaging, and DNA Marking,” Australian Journal of Chemistry (2016) doi: 10.1071/CH16459
The co-author Ravi Shukla blathered something on PubPeer about the toxicity of ethidium bromide as the reason for the spliced on DNA ladder, while openly admitting they ran a gel without any molecular size ladder marker, which was afterwards added digitally to the figure.
A Bhosale sockpuppet then commented that others fudge figures like this as well, hence it’s OK. The investigators proved their incompetence in molecular biology by following this stupid explanation. Which is strange, since at least the biochemist Conn should have understood the problem. There is a good reason a gel needs a molecular weight marker, always.
But here is another retraction the investigators requested, for a paper with all three Bhosale brothers:
Padghan, S.D.; Bhosale, R.S.; Bhosale, S.V.; Antolasic, F.; Al Kobaisi, M.; Bhosale, S.V. “Pyrene-Phosphonate Conjugate: Aggregation-Induced Enhanced Emission, and Selective Fe3+ Ions Sensing Properties,” Molecules (2017) doi: 10.3390/molecules22091417
Bhosale commented on PubPeer:
“Respected Sir, These are the original images. Thanks for your comments.“
I am sure the publisher MDPI will accommodate Bhosale’s request for correction.
Also this paper will be merely corrected:
Duong Duc La, Hoai Phuong Nguyen Thi, Yong Shin Kim, Anushri Rananaware,
Sheshanath V. Bhosale “Facile fabrication of Cu(II)-porphyrin MOF thin films from tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl)porphyrin and Cu(OH)2 nanoneedle array,” Applied Surface Science, (2017) doi: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2017.01.110.
The paper was also criticised scientifically on PubPeer. The investigators, although experts on this research area, simply ignored the concerns and decreed that for this Paper 6 as well as papers 7, 8, and 12:
This despite that
And here another corrective decision, featuring again all three Bhosale brothers:
Rajesh S. Bhosale, Duong Duc La, Sachin D. Padghan, Mohammad Al Kobaisi,
Lathe A. Jones, Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Sheshanath V. Bhosale “Supramolecular Flower‐Like Microarchitectures Self‐Assembly from Naphthalenediimide Amphiphile Bearing Melamine Functionality,” Chemistry Select, (2017) doi: 10.1002/slct.201701967
Another paper by two Bhosale brothers was mildly criticised:
Sheshanath V. Bhosale, Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Suresh K. Bhargava , “Recent progress of core-substituted naphthalenediimides: highlights from 2010,” Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, (2012) doi: 10.1039/C2OB25798J
Recall that Bhosale already admitted in the Monash investigation to have falsified data in that Paper 8. The RMIT investigators wrote it themselves in their report, and then forgot.
The next one is slotted for retraction though:
Namdev V. Ghule, Rajesh Bhosale, Kiran Kharat, Avinash Puyad, Sheshanath Bhosale, Sidhanath Bhosale, “A Naphthalenediimide-Based Fluorescent Sensor for Detectingthe pH within the Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum of Living Cells,” ChemPlusChem, (2014) doi: 10.1002/cplu.201402307
Well, too late, dear RMIT, because the figure was replaced with a correction on 16 March 2022:
“The authors of this Communication wish to correct Figure 1a and Figure 1b, which contained an error.[…]The authors apologize for this oversight and confirm that the conclusions are unchanged.”
Recall that Bhosale told me he will correct all those papers RMIT wanted to retract. He reiterated to me in an email:
“For your kind information the u/s was never sacked/removed by RMIT University, the u/s worked there for six years and there were errors in a few figures provided by students of a collaborative group. After the comments on pub peer, RMIT requested me to look in it. As a leading author it is my duty to correct the same and indeed we have reproduced the results and sent them to respective journals to remove the Figure with an error with the corrected one and the same has been informed to the RMIT office.“
Bhosale chose not to explain why he calls himself “u/s”. maybe it stands for “Uber Scientist”.
Of course he will also correct the following paper, on which RMIT decided:
Namdev V. Ghule, Sheshanath Bhosale, Sidhanath Bhosale, “Dipyrrolyl-
bis-sulfonamide chromophore based probe for anionrecognition,” RSC Advances, (2014) doi: 10.1039/C4RA04000G
You can guess that Bhosale was faster, a correction was issued by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on 9 March 2022:
“The authors regret that an incorrect version of Fig. 1 was included in the original article.”
In the next case RSC decided to do nothing at all, despite the request:
Sachin D. Padghan, Rajesh Bhosale, Namdev V. Ghule, Avinash L. Puyad, Sheshanath Bhosale, Sidhanath Bhosale. “Hydrogen sulfate ion sensing in aqueous media based on afused pyrimido benzothiazole derivative,” RSC Advances, (2016) doi: 10.1039/C6RA01980C
There is no Figure 11, but there is a possibly problematic Figure 1:
This was the RMIT decision for the final paper:
Duong Duc La, Anuradha Anuradha, Amanpreet Kaur Hundal, Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Lathe A. Jones & Sheshanath V. Bhosale “pH-Dependent self-assembly of water-soluble sulfonate-tetraphenylethylene with aggregation-induced emission,” Supramolecular Chemistry, (2018) doi: 10.1080/10610278.2017.1348604
“In Paper 12, figure 5C appears to contain cloned elements. In this case, the Respondents have provided evidence against allegation, which appears suspicious but does not evidence a serious breach. The authors argue that figure 5C cannot be a breach because the figure is taken from another paper; however, the figure is taken from their own work, presented in Organic Biomolecular Chemistry, without citation…”
Figure 5 has only one panel and it seems to have copy-pasted spectra:
No reason for the RSC to do anything. Here a clue: according to his CV, Bhosale is a “Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry”, plus a “Member of Royal Australian Chemical Institute of Chemistry”. Science elite!
And this is how RMIT investigators solved Bhosale’s responsibility:
“Considering the researcher responsibilities of the Australian Code, the Panel recommended the following corrective actions:
As the Respondent is no longer an employee of RMIT University (confirmed by the Human Resources People Partnering Team), no disciplinary or corrective actions
RMIT University should provide a response to the PubPeer comments on these research outputs.”
But if Bhosale is not blameable, whom RMIT blame for all these forgeries then? Well, the papers themselves!
“These papers breached the Australian Code and RMIT Research Policy by not ensuring that conclusions are justified by the results and not responsibly disseminating research findings.”
The papers are to be punished by retractions and following “corrective actions”:
The guilty papers promised to correct themselves, many already did.
Strangely, some Bhosale papers escaped RMIT investigation despite their affiliation. Like this one, maybe it was because the paper was already corrected:
Duong Duc La , Sidhanath V. Bhosale , Lathe A. Jones , Neerish Revaprasadu, Sheshanath V. Bhosale Fabrication of a Graphene@TiO 2 @Porphyrin Hybrid Material and Its Photocatalytic Properties under Simulated Sunlight Irradiation ChemistrySelect (2017) doi: 10.1002/slct.201700473
The Correction was issued by the publisher Wiley just before the RMIT investigation began, in April 2021:
“The authors have reproduced the results for comparison. To avoid confusion of the readers about similar results in both papers, the results derived from the same experimental study as reported in Ref. 8b and the present article. The above statement neither affects the conclusion of the manuscript nor the outcome of the results presented in Ref. 8b and Figure 7 in the present manuscript.The above justi”cation makes readers, subscribers, and researchers more clari”cation rather than confusion.”
Only one Bhosale paper was retracted so far, and that’s only because it was really not salvageable. And affiliated with Monash University. It was first flagged in November 2020.
Sheshanath V. Bhosale, Mohan B. Kalyankar, Santosh V. Nalage, Cecilia H. Lalander, Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Steven J. Langford, Ruth F. Oliver pH dependent molecular self-assembly of octaphosphonate porphyrin of nanoscale dimensions: nanosphere and nanorod aggregates International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2011) doi: 10.3390/ijms12031464
One of the Bhosales, Sidhanath, commented on PubPeer:
“Respected Sir, These are images of self-assembled nanorods. Dr. Sheshanath Bhosale as a corresponding author already responded to the concern Editor.“
He later added:
“Discussions with the editorial team have taken place after their enquiry from Pubpeer and their questions have been answered and the matter resolved.“
It is possible indeed tat MDPI was happy to accept a correction, or even do nothing. Then another figure proved fake, while Cheshire notified the Monash University.
The publisher MDPI retracted this paper in January 2021, even before the RMIT investigation began. Despite what MDPI claims, the retraction was most likely due to a Monash University request:
“Following publication, concerns were brought to the attention of the publisher regarding the figures. Compared with the raw data, Figure 5a appears to have been manipulated. This has brought about uncertainty regarding the scientific conclusions. In addition, this paper  was submitted without the permission of all the co-authors.”
It doesn’t say which authors were unaware of the submission.
These two papers from Monash University somehow got overlooked. Or maybe they were decreed to be too old to bother. Or maybe because Bhosale denied on PubPeer the copy-pasted nature of the nanoparticles.
Sheshanath V. Bhosale, Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Mohan B. Kalyankar , Steven J. Langford, Ceilica H. Lalander Self-Assembly of Protoporphyrin IX-TEG Derivatives into Tunable Nanoscaled Spherical Structures Australian Journal of Chemistry (2010) doi: 10.1071/ch10199
Sheshanath V. Bhosale, Mohan B. Kalyankar , Sidhanath V. Bhosale, Sudhakar G. Patil , Cecilia H. Lalander , Steven J. Langford, Santosh V. Nalage Supramolecular self-assembly of protoporphyrin IX amphiphiles into worm-like and particular aggregates Supramolecular Chemistry (2011) doi: 10.1080/10610278.2010.523115
Update 7.04.2022: it was Cecilia Lalander, whose name ended up on these three papers above without her knowledge and who requested the retraction of all three, to be ignored in two cases. Read her comment here.
We don’t know if Monash University ever found Bhosale guilty of research misconduct, or chose to blame the papers themselves, like RMIT did. But for sure don’t expect Goa University or any other Indian institution to act in any way on the more recent forgeries the Bhosale brothers published. Like this:
Duong Duc La , Jotiram N. Malegaonkar , Mohammad Al Kobaisi , Rajesh S. Bhosale , Sidhanath V. Bhosale , Sheshanath V. Bhosale Spermine-directed supramolecular self-assembly of water-soluble AIE-active tetraphenylethylene: nanobelt, nanosheet, globular and nanotubular structures New Journal of Chemistry (2018) doi: 10.1039/c8nj02636j
RSC issued a Correction on 28 January 2022 where the publisher apologised to the authors for the inconvenience. Seriously.
“Fundamental to any subject is critical thinking and reading along with effective writing, which are necessary in the chemistry classroom as well as for success in life. […] I personally believe that students will gain more knowledge with problem-based learning (PBL) than with PowerPoint presentations or any other mode of teaching. With PBL, students can be greatly involved and are required to attend classes regularly. Thus, the problem-solving concept is required to begin to develop the critical, creative, and complex intelligence skills of chemistry students.”
Show the students your own fraudulent figures, Professor Bhosale. It will train “critical, creative, and complex intelligence skills” for sure, something you utterly lack.
Impressive “problem-solving” skills though, what with these corrections.
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