Exposé (Part 1): Culture of Fraud in Singapore Universities

Flexible Standards of Honesty, Ethics and Fraud Exist.

Fraud Encourages Fraud.  Fraud begets fraud; and then some.

It is just a matter of time.  The erosion of integrity and authenticity must eventually destroy the moral basis for ethical management and burst the bubble of dishonesty.
The latest revelations that Singapore’s premier Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has revoked the 2013 PhD degree of a former Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) scientist, one Ms Sabeera Bonala, after she admitted that she had falsified data in her research and doctoral thesis.

This is the latest fallout in one of the biggest cases of scientific fraud in Singapore, which first came to light in July 2016.  Six research papers were retracted then, including three that had listed Ms Bonala as the first author. Two other researchers have left their posts and another one had his PhD revoked in the earlier episode.

The trio involved in the 2016 scandal are Professor Ravi Kambadur, who was with NTU; Dr Mridula Sharma, who was associate professor at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; and former NTU researcher Sudarsanareddy Lokireddy, who had his PhD from NTU.

Dr Sharma is no longer at NUS and Dr Lokireddy’s PhD from NTU has also been revoked. NTU investigations in December 2015 led to 3 papers on Myostatin, a muscular growth protein, published in 2011 and 2012 being retracted. Another paper was withdrawn before publication and the other 2 papers were corrected. Three more papers published from 2012 to 2014, based on research funded by A*Star and the National Research Foundation (NRF), were also retracted from the prestigious Molecular Endocrinology and Biological Chemistry journals.

NTU has earlier in June 2016, following an unrelated investigation into allegations of research malpractice, retracted 11 academic papers authored by researchers from the National Institute of Education (NIE). Dr Noel Chia who joined NTU in 2006, promoted to Associate Professor in 2014, is the lead author of 8 papers and co-author of the other 3 papers. He was a well-known local expert in the area of special-education needs such as autism, dyslexia and dyscalculia. Of the 11 papers that came under investigation, 9 were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals (JAASEP).

I am sadden by these revelations but not surprised. I have expected these research frauds to surface much earlier.  As an NTU Associate Professor, I have been told some of most unbelievable research malpractice, and often similar things from more than one person! Here are just a few, albeit unverified:

1) The known record is nearly 40+ research papers claimed by a single staff (with various co-authors) in a single year. One Professor actually claims to have more than 1,000 publications over 15+ years, but whose expertise has remained relatively unknown!
2) It is “common” to have more than 10+ research papers per year claimed by a single staff (with various co-authors).

3) Many research papers claimed by a single staff (listed among first 3 authors) are in technical areas not within the staff’s known expertise, training or technical competence.

4) A paper where authorship claimed was 15th among a longer list of authors.

5) Cases of papers submitted under different titles, but with similar contents.

6) Cases of papers submitted under the same title to different journals.

7) Papers translated from their original non-English, foreign language, and claimed as one’s paper and submitted to a English-medium refereed journal.

8) …. And then some.

A Google Scholar search for the publications of senior Professors will return a lisiting of their publications and citations.

The prevalent NTU research practice of questionable ethics involves situations of "gratuitous" or "gift" authorship, where co-authors are added either by themselves or by their subordinates and where they were not involved in the research in any significant manner.  Supervisors generally expect junior Professors to include them as “co-authors” as a matter of normative practice. The latter sees evidence that those who did so would often get compensated and promotions for their generosity in gratitude.  

The Fraud Culture IS the New Normal
Especially noteworthy is the fact that the above affected Professors and staff joined the NTU and NUS at a time when the Universities have fully embraced the bogus and fraudulent World University Rankings standards.  The timing is not coincidental.

By 2010, any seriousness in research vigorousness has been abandoned.  Research integrity suffers as NUS and NTU blindly embraced THE [Times Higher Education] and QS Rankers, without demanding to examine the scientific basis of their “methodology”; especially the criterion factors selected as measures of “best” Universities, nor the population and samples of the respondents who participated in surveys purportedly conducted and whose “data” were used to compile the final annual league table rankings. 

Finally by 2014, NTU was ranked as the Top Youngest University in the World by QS Ranker, from 77th in 2008, and ranking just 39th Worldwide.   

The new guiding principle for integrity is "the end justifies the mean”.  Authenticity has become immaterial and irrelevant as they buy into what the United Nations, UK and European Governments, as well as eminent Professors of Higher Education have already condemned as a bogus standard of questionable excellence.

Given the dodgy nature of World University Rankings and their questionable deliberate fabrication of unreliably unscientific methodologies, NTU victories to their top ranks are in essence as pyrrhic as winning a beauty contest; the mere appearance of uncertain meaningless quality.  

By flaunting the bogus World University Rankings as its fake brand of questionable quality, both NTU and NUS have flouted its blatant disregard for research integrity and ethical authenticity.  

Whither the basis of their moral authority to discipline their Professors and staff for their disdain and defiance of academic honesty and research integrity and ethics?  

Where is NUS/NTU “zero tolerance” towards the research malpractice of the World University Rankings standards?  By embracing and adopting it?

And indeed, whither NRF’s claim to “high expectations” with regard to research funding as it disburses millions of public funds to Universities who embrace and support fraudulent and bogus quality brands that have no integrity and authenticity?  

End the Culture of Fraud in Singapore Universities, now!
Integrity lights our Path to Excellence.

Do it Right and Do it Best!



b said...

Not surprise. A lot of fake PHDs out there.

Goh said...

More fake angmos than PHDs.

Anonymous said...

Alamak, very jialat as my kids graduated from NUS. Lucky they got jobs already so now the next job will be more on the reference with the existing companies that they joined and not which university they graduated from. If not very jialat.

Virgo49 said...


Many more to come and be revelved.

SMRT Engineers, SGH, KTP or Put Too Phat Hospitals? ??

See even sponsored PHD Undergrad poisoned own Mates or should be fellow students or colleagues
just to get ahead.

Ministers, MPs also from Talented First World Countries ??

Singapore now considered Third World with these laughable happenings to let the World have some laughters.

Mwdiacocks should have the Programme Just For Laughs Singapore Humour.

Anonymous said...

The biggest fake of the country is the Fake President.

Anonymous said...


fake fake fake everywhere

everything is fake

everyone is fake

it is how fake you are

you don't know meh

this is the new normal

Virgo49 said...

Singapore Researchers are pushed to be Test-Tube cleaners.

Philip Yeo infamous insults.

Get so many Fake Researchers with sky high salaries plus benefits of housing etc and after a few years lay no eggs but Shits and said bye bye.

My daughter spent eight years under an Indian FT researching what's genome and what's crayfish gene sequencing and what's diabetes stem cells.
As Pioneer A☆ Stars Groups.
No Pioneer Cards benefits.

Had to leave as unnecessary pressure and cut off funds.

Better research chicken feeds and Shits.

Now with a Pharmaceutical Company earning much much more than Whats A*Stars Stars.

PRCs and Nehs Nehs just like the SMRT Maintenance Pump Engineers.

Sleep on the jobs.

This Phillip Yeo as Blue Eye Boy of LKY now met his Destiny or Karma in Obscure Oblivion as a Nobody Today.

Hey days wah so high and mighty.

Once you made the wrong policies and have your cronies in high office, the Disasters are irreversible.

Sinkieland also now Irreversible to go Kaput.

Last time, China Men came and learn from HDB how to construct similar Lego Flats.

Now they bidding overseas projects of HSRs.

Sinkieland from 1st to 3rd World.

Rest of regions MOT overtakes you.

SINKIEs still thinking very Rosy.

Anonymous said...

Ex-Soros Trader Sued For Viciously Abusing Women In "Manhattan Sex Dungeon"


“If I can get another 10 billionaires to move to Singapore and set up their base here… I think Singapore will be better off because they will bring business, they will bring opportunities” - Lee Hsien Loong


Mikospace said...

"O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!"

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

This is neo colonialism at work. They told the daft that they have to invite the foreigners in as their masters, and pay them handsomely. Then they would 'knight' them and say they are good boys.

The whole world may laugh at the stupidity of it all. But as long as the daft citizens believe in this treachery, it is fine, money well spent. Yes masters, how much do you want?

This neo colonialism extends to inviting the third world fake talents to be the masters in all fields and the daft citizens turning into obedient and unthinking subjects. When the masters fired them, the other daft will say they are no good, but never mind, the daft elite will conjure training schemes so that they can go to third world countries to take over the jobs the third world fakes left behind to come here to take their jobs.

Stupidity has no cure.

I wonder if the great thinker Mahbubani has anything to add on this matter. He used to say Asians cannot think, or is it Singaporeans cannot think? Please help them to think.

Anonymous said...

Mahbubani or Mabok-bani?

Anonymous said...

This is a piece of excellent work.
When encountering at Retraction Watch, it was kinda eyeball icecream: oh, ntu nus s frauds. Guess could be for ranking scheming. All of sudden, came to realize how come fraud is no long a so sinful word on sinkieland?

From the author s depth, the insight was shocking plus the related comments: a real "fraud" to keep someone s jobs at the helm.

The scheming is to hire foreigners to use the big "research funding" to wayang to the public, how good is this place in RE Search. The angmor would rank sinkieland as most creative by the funding size and hiring foreigners. Remember the fruitless re search by John Hopping hospeetor. A lots of money and sound, "nothing" was the real ending.

This one: alot of papers published by the foolished ang mor journals thinking they got real stuff from asian number one re search center.

By the time the balloon is poked by the genuine scientists whose journals and publications are stained with shits, the scheme designers are oredi retired or at retiring. Millions of dollars ran into their pockets as salaries.

Voters are the real sickening daft. When can they wise up against old fart s curse?

Mikospace said...

The ONLY objective motivating using a fake bogus brand is to fool and deceive unsuspecting students and their parents or influencers.

Mikospace said...

Those who knowingly embrace a bogus and fake "quality" brand have no moral authority to manage and enforce research integrity and authenticity among their Professors and staff.