On Friday, we reported that the University of East London (UEL) was looking into the career of Jatinder Ahluwalia, the UEL researcher who has left a trail of alleged scientific misconduct at Cambridge University and University College London.
Today, in another Retraction Watch exclusive, we have obtained a letter sent by a faculty member at UEL to department colleagues. It suggests that faculty there are very concerned about the toll these allegations may take on the university’s students and reputation, and are furious that senior officials have failed to keep them in the loop about any potential investigation.
Here’s the text of the letter:
University of East London staff are in uproar about lack of progress by Senior staff in investigating accusations of scientific misconduct allegedly undertaken by Jatinder Ahluwalia.
Posted below is extract from staff members at UEL who have serious concerns about the effects these uninvestigated accusations are having on staff and students.
“Accusations against Jatinder Ahluwalia
Serious and multiple accusations of research misconduct about one of our colleagues have now been in the public domain for almost 3 months and yet so far:
We have had no official acknowledgment that senior staff are aware of all of these allegations.
We have no idea about whether the information circulating in respected publications and various internet sites has any truth beyond what is clear e.g. the retraction of the Nature paper and the report of the UCL enquiry are established fact but is it acknowledged that Jatinder was a graduate student at Cambridge and was dismissed for alleged “falsification of experimental results?
Have no idea how the allegations are regarded e.g. confirmation that they are regarded very seriously and that they are relevant to UEL and not just to the institutions where the alleged offences are said to have been committed.
Have no indications of what steps what steps are being taken to establish their veracity and any mitigating factors e.g. if an investigation is being conducted, who is conducting it and what are the terms of reference of the investigation?
The accused person has continued to perform duties that are inappropriate or at best seem insensitive in the light of these allegations e.g. enrolment of new self-funded research students with himself as Director of Studies.
I am writing this after many discussions with colleagues and on their behalf because of a perception that the School and University appear to be sitting on their hands, hoping this scandal will fade away.
This request to be kept in the loop is not just idle curiosity about matters that are irrelevant to us; several of us have had to deal with sensitive matters that are affected by these allegations. For example dealing with the following real scenarios.
Potential PhD students who ask for advice about working with Jatinder as their supervisor. We have a duty to make the facts and their implications clear to these students.
Reference requests from these potential PhD students.
Pressure to act as co-supervisors of these students
Course material for taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses that contains references to and discussion of the Nature paper.
Project students who have been directed towards this paper.
Revising and commenting upon externally published material, which contains discussion of Jatinder’s work.
Comments from colleagues at other institutions about this case and UEL’s response.
Other staff may have co-authored publications with Jatinder or may be in the process of doing this. They may well feel that until these allegations are dealt with, they are “guilty by association”.
We may soon have to deal with questions from other students and contacts in the popular media for comments about this case.
We’ll continue, of course, to monitor this case.