Thursday, July 16, 2009

University Vice President Loses His Degree for Plagiarism

More than two years ago, alert readers of New Thread have uncovered two separate plagiarism cases committed by Huang Qing (黄庆), vice president of Southwest Jiaotong University (西南交通大学).

A couple months after the public exposure, the school received a formal complain near the end of 2007. It was not until last week that they have reached a verdict that Huang Qing had indeed committed plagiarism. On July 10, the school decided to revoke the Ph.D. degree it had given Huang Qing in 2000 and his qualification in advising graduate students.

There was no decision on his position of vice presidency or faculty status, which the school said it would be dealt with separately in the future. The school did however say that Huang Qing is welcome to stay in school and presumably work in some teaching capacity.

Huang Qing himself has denied all wrongdoings.

Danwei has previously reported this case.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Zhengzhou University Sacks an Associated Dean

According to China Youth Daily, Zhengzhou University (郑州大学) has recently dismissed the Associated Dean of its News and Mass Media College in a disciplinary action against fraud.

The associated dean, Professor Jia Shiqiu (贾士秋), was recently exposed for having used falsified personal information and publication record to gain her professorship three years ago. In her application, she had listed articles and books for which she was not even listed as an author or contributor.

Jia Shiqiu was also stripped of her professorship and presumably fired from the school.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Youngest Mayor" is a Plagiarist

In June, the Internet in China was abuzz that a twenty-nine years old had become the mayor of a city in Hubei Province. Zhou Senfeng (周森峰) thus became known as the "youngest mayor" of the country.

While many people tried to find out if Zhou Senfeng's rise was benefited from family background or connections (there did not appear to be any), Fang Zhouzi examined his published papers and concluded that Zhou Senfeng was a plagiarist while as a student in Tsinghua University.

Fang Zhouzi reported that Zhou Senfeng published only two papers while studying for this masters degree. In one of them, two sections that makes up the core of the paper were essentially a copy of a paper from someone else. The second paper, on the other hand, is made up by plagiarized content from various different sources.

Commenting on the case, Fang Zhouzi pointed out that one of the biggest reasons that Zhou Senfeng was selected as the mayor was his Masters degree, which is now proven to be a fraud. This shows that Zhou Senfeng has serious character flaws and is unfit for his position.

In response, Zhou Senfeng denied the charge by saying that he only used other papers as references. But he refused to provide more details in defending himself.

Fang Zhouzi's Interview on Xinmin Weekly

Recently, Fang Zhouzi had an interview with the Shanghai newspaper Xinmin Weekly, summarizing his thought on the current status of the integrity issues in China. Here is a rough and partial translation of the interview:

Q: Your "For the Record" site has opened almost ten years, your book Ulcer has also been published for eight years now. But ... in these one to two years, more and more incidences of fabricated papers being exposed. Does this prove that the amount of scientific misconduct is getting worse in China? Is the problem more serious here than in other countries?

Fang Zhouzi: It's only because the media is paying more attention now. It can't prove that the misconduct has gotten worse. My own feeling is that, the most serious period is perhaps a few years ago. In more recent years, we have had media attention and a few disciplinary cases, some people were deterred and cases of scientific misconduct showed a downward trend. But the problem is still more serious here than in other countries. It is wide-spread and multi-faceted. So, I would rather called it corruption.

Q: Why do students plagiarize in their degree dissertations?

Fang Zhouzi: There are several reasons for this. One is that we have problems in our education. Students did not receive proper teaching in scientific behavior and ethics. Rather, they were led to believe that "all papers were copies" (天下文章一大抄). Students in elementary and middle schools were encouraged to copy sample articles while doing their compositions. Another aspect is that the teachers have problems. They have too many students and social activities to pay attention to their students. Or they don't have sufficient research abilities themselves to provide guidance to their students. Some teachers are plagiarizers themselves and their students are just following examples. Another reason is the dissertation standard system. Undergraduate students usually have no time or ability to do research, it is not necessary for them to write dissertations for a degree. If you force them to do it, you are making them to plagiarize. It is unnecessary to impose a hard limit on the time to complete a dissertation for a Ph. D. degree. If/when the research did not pan out, and the student could not complete the dissertation on time, you are then force them to plagiarize.

Q: Some colleges are now using software to detect plagiarism in students' dissertations, what do you think of it?

Fang Zhouzi: This kind of software is only a supplementary tool for detecting plagiarism but can not be a standard itself. Whether a paper is plagiarized needs to be judged by human. Some schools put a standard that it is only plagiarism when the software finds more than 30% in similarities. That is ridiculous. What about 10% or 20% in the most important passages? In fact, if just a few sentences are copied, it is plagiarism.