Take punitive measures against academic fraud
The report on academic fraud highlighted the increased risk of doctors and scientists falsifying data in their research and doctoral theses (Greater risk of academic fraud as competition grows: Experts; Nov 13).
The only comfort is that misconduct in academia does not seem to be out of control, with sporadic cases reported.
In the United States, the False Claims Act (FCA ) allows an American citizen to file a suit on behalf of the federal government to recover awarded funds that were fraudulently obtained.
If the suit succeeds, the private party may receive up to 30 per cent of the government’s award.
The FCA is an important tool for the US government in fighting fraud in federal-funded scientific research.
Last year, Mr Lim Chuan Poh, chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, put it succinctly: “We must continue to foster a culture of research integrity, while adopting a zero-tolerance attitude towards breaches.
History has shown that research misconduct happens in the best of institutions.”
The recent cases of professional misconduct seem to indicate that the culprits resigned or were sacked without any penalty.
Since public funds were used, these rogue researchers should be fined and/or imprisoned as a future deterrent.
The sad part is that most steps to reduce research misconduct are not very effective.
This is due in part to the tendency of universities to stonewall and deny any wrongdoing.
If universities are made to return up to three times the awarded research-support sum to the state, then perhaps they would take more pains to scrutinise their researchers. There is often the perception that a city getting more built-up comes at the expense of greenery, but this is not always true (More rooftop gardens, urban farms planned; Nov 10).
It is possible to work towards the ideal of interlacing both natural and man-made environments.
Singapore’s push towards vertical greenery comes with many benefits, including visual relief to passers-by and residents, who now do not have to travel out of their housing estates to appreciate the beauty of nature.
In addition, Singapore is known to be a stop-over for a variety of migratory birds, some of which have been observed to nest in Housing Board estates.
There are several blocks in Yishun which are frequented by the migratory grey wagtail, for instance.
While it is great to see the Government pushing for a greener Singapore, it is imperative that residents in Singapore play a supporting role in this initiative, as well.
For one thing, residents need to actively maintain these new communal gardens to ensure their sustainability.
People should understand some of the basics of going green.
For instance, they should refrain from feeding wildlife, especially birds, that may now call these new green spaces home, lest they become more intrusive and violent in the hope of procuring food.
Lastly, Singaporeans should not litter in these new green spaces, as this will go against the Government’s efforts in trying to promote a cleaner and greener society, and pose a threat to biodiversity in the vicinity.
As long as the people and the Government work hand in hand, Singapore’s green footprint will be greatly improved.