Einstein predicted a long time ago that the world will have generations of idiots when technology develops to a point where there will be no human interactions. That is exactly what has been witnessed lately with "smartphone" in everyone's hand even at the table having dinner with the family members, during intimate dating, having coffee with friends, while driving during the heavy traffic, at the pedestrian crossing, in the classrooms or while sitting on a joyride at the carnivals .
Last year, the Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University scrapped the traditional and/or fundamental science degree courses - B.Sc. and M.Sc., noting that while a college on an average has 400 to 500 Commerce students, the B.Sc. course attracts just 10 to 20 students. Thus the University planned to enter four-year B.S. and one-year M.S. following the format of the United States to give a global touch.
However, the current learning/teaching mode in every part of the globe, including United States, Germany, France, India, the Czech Republic, Spain, China, Korea, Mexico, North and South Americas, has made our younger generation ignore the basics of science and focus on the applications. The basic sciences are the foundations of learning that would lead to applications eventually, just like the invention of the cathode-ray tube by JJ Thompson of Scotland leading to the development of television, the discovery of neutrons by John Chadwick in Cambridge leading to cancer treatment therapies, Einstein's discovery of photons, Rutherford’s discovery of the atomic nucleus, Enrico Fermi's quantum theory and particle physics and Marie Curie's discovery of radioactivity, and many more of such basic science discoveries led to comfortable lives for our younger generations with smartphones, LCD displays, satellite broadcasts, fancy man-made fibers and plastics, automobiles, remote controls, and drugs. Without the fundamental science, these discoveries would not have been possible. Humans are blessed with "diamond-quality" brain - the more you polish it, the more it shines, but when it is cut, the luster increases and further cuttings in all angles lead to precious diamond and eventually it may become a crown jewel. Learning basic science is to understand with enthusiasm and to enjoy developing the understanding of the connection between life and nature. Everyone should be reminded that "without a great foundation, you cannot build a strong and stable castle."
Another aspect of learning is to understand the truth and/or unaltered knowledge as found in nature through scientific facts or books based on those peer-reviewed publications. They are the observed or determined scientific data that are actual or existent facts of nature as, "facts are forever," but "interpretations may come and go." Therefore, the peer review system should be such that the authors interpret the data to the best of their ability and in a way consistent with the existing literature facts! In the name of impact factor (similar to TRP in the entertainment business), the peer-review system of many journals is ignoring the basic ethics that are essential to preserve the integrity of the scientific publications.
At this point, it is imperative to bring our "words of wisdom" to those young budding researchers and the contributing future authors. It might be surprising that not all of the younger generation of researchers are taught the correct meaning of ethical standards and plagiarism at home and at school. Words, such as "lying" is not a "sin" and "plagiarism" is not a "crime", have been the corrupted belief in their vocabulary, particularly among the new generation in many developing countries, including India.3 Many of the younger generation of students/postdoctoral researchers and even junior faculty think that "lying, stealing or plagiarism" and then "not being caught" is an act of "bravery"! If it was not for the modern day high-speed Internet, we would not have found many of these illegal acts and stopped them in order to preserve the integrity of the publications. Thanks are given to those dedicated scientists who have made discoveries by using their own creativity, rather than stealing the ideas from others. A wise man once said - "If you salute your work, then you don't salute anyone; but if you pollute your work, then you need to salute everyone."
One way to preserve the integrity of any scientific publications would be by publishing the names of the reviewers of each accepted paper as suggested by Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne, recipient of the US National Medal of Science, Priestley Medal and former Editor-in-Chief of American Chemical Society's journal Inorganic Chemistry. Indeed, this would improve the integrity of the science being reported.4
Narayan S. Hosmane:
He is a cancer research scientist who has received the coveted Humboldt Research Award for senior scientists twice. He has published over 300 papers in leading scientific journals and ranked by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in the top 50 percent of the most cited chemists in the world from 1981-1997. The Institute presented him with its Pride of India Gold Award, Lifetime Achievement Pravasi Award and Bharath Samman Medal during the Annual Conference held in New Delhi in 2007.