Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rao Yi Out of Academician Race, Protests Openly

Rao Yi, professor of biology and the dean of College of Life Science at Peking University, lost out in the first round of the selection process for a new class of members of the Chinese Academy of Science.

The outcome was both shocking and expected. While an excellent research scientist in his own field, Rao Yi has also been very outspoken in his criticism of the current academic system in China.

In an unusual response, Professor Rao Yi wrote a post in his blog expressing gratitude to the scholars who nominated him but declared that he would never be a candidate for CAS again. The news and his protest is carried in at least some of the official newspapers in China.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Controversy of Fang Zhouzi's Essay Debated among American Professors

Back in 1995, when the Internet was still at its infancy, Fang Zhouzi, then a graduate student at Michigan State University, wrote an essay in a newsgroup (online forum of the day) during a heated discussion. In it he introduced and paraphrased an interpretation of science first proposed by Professor Robert Root-Bernstein in the same school (although the two never met in person). The essay was later revised and published in a couple of books as part of Fang Zhouzi's collective essays.

More than 15 years later, the essay was frequently used by Fang Zhouzi's detractors as evidence of an act of plagiarism. In April of this year, a Chinese newspaper carried the same accusation for which a legal battle is still underway.

More recently, the issue has been brought in front of Professor Root-Bernstein himself, who concluded that Fang Zhouzi did commit plagiarism and issued a lengthy open letter to a semi-public mailing list of concerned members and therefore ignited a heated debate among learned scholars and others interested parties. Parts of the discussion have been selectively made public in various online forums by both sides.

Following is a collection of the leaked exchanges, with a few narratives of my own to provide some connection and perspective.

The first is Professor Root-Bernstein's open letter itself. It is quite long, but included here in its entirety for the fairness to both parties.
An Open Letter to Shi-Min Fang from Robert Root-Bernstein, Ph. D., Professor of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 USA; Dated 3 August 2011.

A number of people, including myself, have accused you of plagiarizing my work. You and your followers have denied it. Let’s use this difference of opinion to educate ourselves about what constitutes plagiarism in and see if we can reach an accord.

Let me begin by stating that I am basing my arguments on The Universal Copyright Convention, to which the People’s Republic of China and the United States both adhere.

1) You admit that you used my article “On Defining a Scientific Theory” as the basis for an essay that you published online in your blog in 1995 and subsequently in a book. The full bibliographic reference for my article is: Root Bernstein, R. S. "On Defining a Scientific Theory: Creationism Considered," in Evolution and Creationism, Ashley Montagu, ed. (Oxford: The University Press, 1984), pp 64 94.) It is copyrighted by the Oxford University Press.

2) You and four of your Chinese colleagues have sent me various English translations of your essay. Although there are some differences in the specific wording of each translation, all display exactly the same development of the argument in the same order using the same examples.

3) According to copyright law, a person may plagiarize another person’s work in several ways. The first is to copy their words without attribution. The second is to use more than a certain percentage of a work without explicit permission from the copyright holder. For example, in the U. S. one may not quote more than 250 words from a single source, even with attribution, without obtaining explicit permission from the copyright holder. I am told that in China, an essayist must not copy more than 3% of a text and that a student who copies more than 25% may be denied his or her degree. A third form of plagiarism consists of lifting another author’s arguments and examples without explicit permission. Accordingly, one may plagiarize a work even in the absence of copying its language and even with attribution, especially if the arguments and examples are unique and constitute a substantial portion of the work plagiarized.

4) Others claim, and I concur, that you have plagiarized my work in all three ways. Let’s take a look at each, one at a time. You claim that you have not plagiarized me because you have not copied my words. Translations of words and ideas from one language to another pose a special problem in plagiarism cases, since differing grammars and cultural idioms will necessarily create alterations from the original text. Re-translations back into the original language cause further distortions. While it is always difficult to prove copying of words when using translations, many of your sentences have the identical structures and occur in the same order as mine and this is highly suggestive of copying. Therefore, in considering plagiarism in translation one must look beyond exact verbal duplication.

5) Beyond exact verbal duplication, it is necessary to ask how much of the original text has been used in formulating the second-language text and whether the second language text copies the verbal logic, the development of the argument, and the specific examples of the first language text. With regard to your essay, the answer is that you plagiarized me all of these ways. Many of your sentences (retranslated into English) have the same logical structure and occur in the same order as mine. This is highly suggestive of copying. Moreover, this identity of logic and sequence certainly exceeds 250 words and you certainly did not obtain my permission to do so. Finally, whether or not it can be proven that your essay simply translates mine, it can certainly be proven that the argument and the order of the points that you make are identical to those in my article, and the majority of examples are also identical. Since these arguments and examples constitute virtually the whole of my article and they also constitute the whole of your essay, I must conclude that your essay is a copy of mine. In verbal logic, development of argument and choice of example, your essay replicates my article.

6) You and your followers respond that you have incorporated several of your own examples in the place of mine. This does not alter the fact that the development of the entire argument, the exact order of the points, and the majority of the examples are still drawn from my own text.

7) You and your followers also argue that you did cite my name in publishing your article, but the only evidence you have provided to me is a photograph of a page in Chinese from an undated book on which my name appears. This evidence is inadequate for two reasons. First, the issue is not whether you cited me in your book, but whether you cited me in your original blog post in 1995. I have been presented with evidence that your original blog post did not cite me, and that you subsequently altered your post to incorporate my name only after you were accused of having plagiarized my article. Even if you did cite me in your original blog post, and even though you cite my name and even the source of my article in your essay as it now appears in book form, the claim of plagiarism still stands. Because you use the same logic, the same development of argument and very largely the same choice of examples as my original article, and because you draw on no other sources, your essay is a representation of my work and you are still under the obligation to obtain my explicit written permission to publish your essay in any form.

8) In addition, you and your followers have argued that my own essay “On Defining a Scientific Theory” is itself a popularization or “summary” of other people’s scholarship and therefore not protected by the same copyright laws as scholarly works. I gather that you believe that because you think you could have found the ideas in my article expressed elsewhere, my work is derivative and not therefore a copyrightable work. This is simply untrue on two counts. In the first place, Oxford University Press did copyright my essay. It is protected under law. Indeed, popularizations of all kinds are protected by copyright. Secondly, my article was not a popularization. It is a scholarly work published by a major university press. Moreover, you cannot find any other author arguing that a scientific theory must satisfy four sets of criteria simultaneously: logical, evidential, sociological and historical. You may find other scholars who have argued one or two of these together, but I know of no one who has argued any three of them together, and I am quite certain that I am the first scholar to argue that there are historical criteria that must also be part of the mix (see also my book Discovering [Harvard University Press, 1989]). Thus, my essay represents a unique and important scholarly contribution to the study of science. In plagiarizing my work, you have therefore stolen a scholarly synthesis of intellectual ideas that is unique to me, and which occurs in no one else’s scholarly or popular work. In other words, you could not have found these ideas anywhere else, nor could you have invented them yourself.

9) You and your followers have also argued that same criteria for citations do not pertain to popularizations as to scholarly essays and books. This argument is simply irrelevant. A popularizer may not plagiarize any individuals work whether they cite it or not.

In short, I maintain that whether you have used my exact words or not, you have certainly plagiarized my work by copying my unique scholarly argument, the logic and the points I use to substantiate it, and most of the examples I laboriously found to support it. I further maintain that because of the extent of this plagiarism, which consists of your entire article, you have plagiarized me in both your blog post and in your written essay. This plagiarism stands whether or not you cite my name in your blog post or in your written essay because of the extent of the material borrowed. Stated another way, your essay is an unacceptable copy of my work both because of the extent of the material borrowed and because you drew upon no other source or sources but mine in writing it. Due to this replication, you were obligated to obtain my explicit written permission before posting your blog or publishing your essay.

Now, what do I want from you? The answer is simply an apology. I am a teacher and I welcome this opportunity to teach about the complexities and subtleties surrounding the protection of intellectual property. We all make mistakes. What is important are the lessons we learn from our mistakes. The lesson here is that all you needed to do was to ask permission if you could popularize my essay and I would have said “yes!”. I was, after all, in the building right next to yours at MSU when you wrote your essay in 1995! And, like most scholars, I am always very pleased to have my work used by other people – as long as I get credit for having done that work! So my advice to you and all other scholars is something I learned very early in my career: it never hurts you to credit everyone who might have contributed to your own ideas; it always hurts you to leave anyone out. It never hurts to obtain copyright permission, even if you may not need it; but it always hurts to try to get away without obtaining that permission.

I look forward to your reply!

Bob Root-Bernstein, Ph. D., Professor of Physiology, Michigan State University
Although Professor Root-Bernstein claims that he intends "to teach about the complexities and subtleties surrounding the protection of intellectual property," his own open letter seems to have confused the distinction between "plagiarism" and "copyright infringement," a point he had to clarify to some extend in the list. He also invoked the mythical "250 words" criteria as copyright threshold.

Fang Zhouzi responded with a concise statement disputing the plagiarism or copyright charges, but included an apology for lack of explicit crediting in the original version of the essay:
Dear Dr. Root-Bernstein,

In 1995 when I was a graduate student at MSU, I posted a short writing to an online forum called alt.chinese.text when there was a debate about pseudoscience among oversea Chinese students. It was an informal, casual follow-up to a discussion thread, not an academic paper or assignment. Part of it paraphrased the criteria of science from your article. I presented the criteria of science as "consensus in philosophy of science" and give my own examples to explain it. This writing was revised and formally published in one of my books in 1999, and it cited the source as "According to the summary by Root-Bernstein", and when the criteria were mentioned again in another book of mine in 2007, it gave reference as "On Defining a Scientific Theory: Creationism Considered, Robert Root-Bernstein, Science and Creationism, Oxford University Press, 1984".(Without this reference, I don't believe the supporters of Xiao Chuanguo, the surgeon who hired assailants to attack me using pepper spray and hammer after I exposed his malpractice, could track down the source and report the "plagiarism" to you and MSU administration 16 years later. I have deleted email addresses of four Xiao's supporters in this reply)

I never presented the criteria as my own original idea, nor did I copy your wordings. And when it's formally published, the source had been credited and cited. Therefore I don't think it consists of plagiarism or copyright infringement according to the common accepted definitions with which you disagree. But it's inappropriate not to explicitly credit you in my original posting, and I apologize for it.


Shi-min Fang
Professor Root-Bernstein was not satisfied with the response and apology as he still insists on his "plagiarism" charge, but now he added the phrase "copyright infringement" to go along with it, seemingly still mixing up the two distinct concepts:
Dear Shi-min Fang,

Thank you for admitting your error in failing to cite my article in your initial online essay, and for the apology regarding it. I do not, however, believe that your response adequately addresses the points I made in my open letter. The issue is not a matter of a missing citation, which, since you have corrected it, would be a minor matter indeed. The issue is that you have appropriated my entire argument and most of the examples that I use to support it. Whether we want to label this "plagiarism" or "copyright infringement" or some combination of the two is irrelevant. The fact is that you did not alter my argument in any way; you did not mix it or modify it with other peoples's arguments; and you presented it in exactly the same order and (and here I must insist on this) using the same language. Now you add the additional insult in arguing that I am mis-using the concepts of plagiarism and copyright infringement in making my accusations. And you do so without justifying this attack upon my supposed ignorance. So how, exactly, do you define plagiarism and copyright infringement? At what point did you inquire of me or of Oxford University Press the right to use a large portion of my article, or even to popularize it?

Please note that I am sending this to all of the people who have expressed interest in this issue. As I said in my open letter to you, I want to use this as an educational forum. Your attempt to prevent those who you consider your "enemies" from having a voice in this discussion undermines the openness with which I approached you and is counter-productive.


Bob Root-Bernstein
At about this point, it appears that the discussion on the mailing list has taken a bad turn with personal attacks and other accusations, including that Fang Zhouzi had committed academic fraud in his thesis work. Fang Zhouzi's thesis adviser, Professor Zachary Burton, was compelled to rise in defense of his formal student:
To the list,

As Dr. Shi-min Fang’s former graduate school mentor, I would like to re-iterate my support for Dr. Fang’s prominent position in Chinese society.

I have no interest in the efforts of Dr. Fang’s political opponents to try to discredit him.

Dr. Fang completed a good quality thesis in my laboratory, awarded in 1996. He published a high quality research paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry based on his thesis work. So far as I know, his thesis work has passed the test of time, and Transcription Factor for RNA polymerase II (TFII)F still interacts with TFIIB.

If there is merit in Dr. Root-Bernstein’s accusations, I fail to see it. Dr. Fang has responded to Dr. Root-Bernstein in a reasonable and measured way.

With best regards and sincerity,

Zachary Burton, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Michigan State University
E. Lansing, MI 48824-1319
But apparently the attacks continued and included Professor Burton as targets, so much so that Professor Root-Bernstein himself had to issue a desperate call to "stop attacking Dr. Fang's and Dr. Burton's Characters":
To All,

I want to say that I am very displeased with the direction that the conversation about Dr. Fang has taken. I am not Dr. Fang's enemy. I am not attacking Dr. Fang's character. I am offended by those people who are doing so. I am even more offended that my colleague and friend Zach Burton should be attacked as well. This is a complicated issue and Dr. Burton is entitled to his opinion, and to air it freely. The issue we are debating is whether Dr. Fang made an error in using more of my work than is considered appropriate under academic and legal definitions of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Whether or not Dr. Fang is guilty of such an error should be the focus of our discussions as we try to work out how different cultures using different languages assess these issues. The outcome of our deliberations should have nothing to do with whether Dr. Fang is a good person, a bad person, a prominent member of Chinese society, or any other aspect of his character. Nor should the characters of any other individual involved in this controversy be an aspect of our deliberations. If such personal attacks on Dr. Fang and/or Dr. Burton continue, I shall withdraw my allegations and consider the matter closed. Deal with the facts, not the people or their personalities, or this ends now!

Sincerely, Bob Root-Bernstein
Robert Root-Bernstein, Ph. D.
Professor of Physiology
2174 Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824 USA
It is hard to predict where this discussion could lead to from here, if anywhere. What is clear is that Professor Root-Bernstein's efforts "to teach about the complexities and subtleties" of plagiarism and copyright infringement in that forum has been ineffective to say the least. Part of the problem may well be with the teacher himself.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fang Zhouzi Files Lawsuit against Magazine

Fang Zhouzi has formally filed a defamation lawsuit against the magazine Legal Weekly, which has been carrying attacks on him and his wife. The lawsuit claims that the magazine has committed defamation by publishing biased, and non-factual articles against him. It also alleges that the magazine has misused his picture.

He is seeking a retraction of the articles, an apology and monetary compensation.

The lawsuit application was originally submitted more than 10 days ago after the first-round of the attack by the magazine. Because Legal Weekly, like the majority of media in China, is an official government entity, the court was not sure whether it could accept the case. After the delay, however, the suit is now officially accepted.

Fang Zhouzi's Wife Responds to Charges of Plagiarism

Media attacks on Fang Zhouzi continue in China and they are now turning on his wife, Liu Juhua. The magazine Legal Weekly published another lengthy report accusing Liu Juhua plagiarism in her masters thesis completed in 2002, a couple of years before she married Fang Zhouzi.

In an essay signed as "Fang Zhouzi's Wife," a customary way for her to write in such occasions, Liu Juhua responded by saying that she keeps a clear conscience on her earlier work. She explained that she had never intended to work in academic research or publish her thesis. The thesis was done only to satisfy the degree requirement. She regarded her thesis, like any those for masters degree in liberal arts, as a review of given issue and not necessarily full of original ideas. However, she denies that she had plagiarized.

Liu Juhua expressed her frustration as being the target of vicious personal attacks on the Internet because of his husband's work. But she was confident that she could handle whatever comes with grace.

Fang Zhouzi had initially maintained his silence when the accusation first surfaced on the Internet. After the publication of this article, he forcefully defended his wife and vowed to "go after" those who had attacked his wife by "applying the same plagiarism standard"(*) to examine their thesis work.

(*) As that had been applied to his wife's work, which sometimes confuses copying and paraphrasing.

At the same time, however, Fang Zhouzi allows that her wife's thesis could have been improved with better citation and quoting techniques, a skill that was rarely taught to students in China. It is a common and wide-spread problem for which he has been advocating that a thesis should not be required for earning a bachelors or masters degree.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Xiao Chuanguo Hosts Press Conference

Dr. Xiao Chuanguo, who was recently released from prison for his attacks, made his first public appearance in the form of a press conference today in Wuhan, China. The conference was announced a few days ago and had a touch of mystery, as reporters were required to sign a non-disclosure-agreement in the name of protecting patients' privacy.

News reports of the conference are just starting to show up in some small-scale media in China. According to them, Dr. Xiao Chuanguo presented:
  1. A report from the American Urology Association on the three-year results of Xiao's Procedure tests. It shows that the procedure can "improve the voiding functionality" of patients with spina bifida. [Blogger's Note: as far as we could tell, this must refer to the to-be-published results from Beaumont Hospital, which indicated that the so-called "Xiao's Reflective Arc" had disappeared from all but one patient after three years.]
  2. Some video clips of patients voiding by scratching their side or leg skins
  3. A couple of patients or their relatives making statements of their being cured by Xiao's Procedure.
  4. A picture of himself in prison uniform. Dr. Xiao Chuanguo claims that he has been mistreated by the media and will sue CCTV for slandering.
When responding to questions from reporters, Dr. Xiao Chuanguo insisted that the procedure had not been officially halted in China. Although he has lost his medical licence due to his court trouble, he said that his students and assistants can still perform the procedure.

He also disclosed that he is considering to leave China for America.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chinese Magazine Stirs Up Old Controversy

The Legal Weekly (法治周末), a relatively new and small weekend magazine, published a four-page "investigative report" on Fang Zhouzi on the eve of the April Fool. The acid-toned article was based on many slandering rumors that had been circulated on the Internet for years.

The article interviewed many characters that either had been exposed for fraud by or had clashes with Fang Zhouzi in the past. One of them was quoted saying that Fang Zhouzi has very few long-term friends, "he is not a person suitable to be a friend."

More damningly, the article accused Fang Zhouzi of having committed plagiarism himself. It lists many verbiage comparisons between Fang Zhouzi's work and those he had used as source material. The comparison generally showed the reporter's lack of understanding in the difference between copying and paraphrasing.

Although the same accusations and rumors had been around for a long time, this is the first time they were published in an official media. The report stirred up heated exchanges in the Chinese blogsphere over the weekend.

Fang Zhouzi has threatened to sue the paper for slandering.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confusion Surrounds the Status of Released Professor

Professor Xiao Chuanguo, who was previously sentenced to 5.5 month detention for masterminding brutal attacks on Fang Zhouzi and the journalist Fang Xuanchang, is recently released from prison after serving his term. The newspaper XinKuaiBao interviewed the unrepentant doctor, who continued to call Fang Zhouzi as a "mad dog."

Curiously, the reporters found Dr. Xiao Chuanguo at work in his old office at HUST, which had, supposedly, stripped all his administrative and teaching positions. The doctor did not directly answer reporter's questions on his work status, but he appeared to be busy at his work. He also disclosed that he is scheduled to travel abroad for his surgical work.

Despite a videotaped confession in which he admitted to the details of his involvement, Dr. Xiao Chuanguo now claims that he had never violated any law, nor admitted to such. He claimed that it was the media that were spreading rumors.

In response to complains of his patients, he appealed for calm and promised that he could reexamine and "fix" those who had failed to see effects of his procedure. He also blamed most doctors in China lacked sufficient expertise to understand his work.

Meanwhile, both Fang Zhouzi and Xiao Chuanguo are appealing to the highest court of China for a retrial of the attack case.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Authors Accuse Baidu of Stealing Work

On March 15, China's "Consumer Rights Day", more than 40 Chinese authors published an open letter accusing the search engine company Baidu for making their work available on its site free of charge without authorization.

Fang Zhouzi is one of the authors. He told news reporters that he could find almost all his books in the Baidu repository called Baidu Wenku. Even older books had been scanned and uploaded. Therefore, he suspected an organized and intentional effort of piracy.

According to AFP:
"Baidu has become a totally corrupt thief company," the authors said in the letter posted Tuesday on the website of government-linked China Written Works Copyright Society.

"It stole our works, our rights, our property and has turned Baidu Wenku into a marketplace of stolen goods," it said.

Baidu Wenku was launched in 2009 and allows users to read, share or download files and books, or their excerpts, for free. Readers can also purchase books from the online library -- at a much lower cost than the cover price.

All documents are uploaded by Internet users and as of November Baidu Wenku had stockpiled more than 10 million files and books, accounting for 70 percent of China's online file sharing market, according to the company's figures.

Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said the search engine "attaches great importance to intellectual property rights protection" and had deleted "tens of thousands of infringing items" uploaded by web users.

"We promised that authors or copyright holders can report problematic content found on Baidu Library to the complaint centre ... and we will delete infringing content within 48 hours," Kuo said in a statement Wednesday.

In a disclaimer on its website, Baidu said users who uploaded the files must take on all liabilities and be responsible for compensation in any copyright disputes.

However, the writers insisted Baidu should bear responsibility, claiming the company took advantage of the uploads to "enhance its own influence, boost its stock price and increase its profits".

"We do not blame the friends who uploaded (the documents). We only blame the evil platform of Baidu," they said.

Baidu has long been criticised for flouting intellectual property rights and its MP3 search service, which provides links to free but often pirated music downloads, has drawn fire from the recording industry.

The US Trade Representative's office last month named Baidu as one of the world's top marketplaces for pirated and counterfeit goods, saying the company was enabling piracy with "deep linking" searches.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fang Zhouzi Goes to the Highest Court

Fang Zhouzi and Fang Xuanchang, the two victims (no relation) of a vicious attack masterminded by the disgraced Dr. Xiao Chuanguo, made a formal appeal to the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China yesterday, asking for a review of the previous lower court decisions which led to a five and half month detention for Xiao Chuanguo. They are appealing that the decisions contained mistakes in legal basis and that there are new evidences proving that the facts recognized by the earlier judges were in error.

The lengthy appeal document lists seven major issues:
  1. Obvious errors in the application of law and the crime. (The lower courts had settled with a minor "causing disturbance" charge while the attackers had clearly intended to kill or at least causing major injuries.)
  2. New evidences prove that previous court-recognized facts are in error. (The lower courts had accepted a hospital statement that Fang Xuanchang only suffered minor injuries while the involved doctor told a newspaper that Fang Xuanchang had lost a large amount blood and showing signs of shock and dizziness.)
  3. The lower courts made mistakes in recognizing key facts, missed important leads in the case, and confused a few facts.
  4. There are significant discrepancies in the motives of the defendant.
  5. The sentences given by the lower courts are too light for the crimes involved.
  6. On their appeal, the Intermediate Court did not factually record evidences provided by the prosecutors.
  7. The original court procedure was seriously fraud.
By the original sentence, Dr. Xiao Chuanguo is due to be released at the present time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Assistant Professor with a $450K Annual Salary

A few days ago, an alert netter informed New Threads that a local newspaper in China had reported that a Chinese student gave up his $450K salary in the US and returned to serve his motherland. The newspaper story also introduced the hero, Dr. Mu Qiwen, as the Chief Scientist at the Medical University of South Carolina. However, the netter claimed that he knew the truth, that Dr. Wu Qiwen neither was a Chief Scientist nor has a $450K salary.

Dr. Wu Qiwen himself quickly responded to the charge. He referenced his page in at the South Carolina university which lists him as having two titles, one as "Adjunct Assistant Professor" and another as "Senior Investigator Faculty/Chief Scientist/Radiologist/Mentor in Doctoral and Postdoc Programs". Furthermore, he produced a job offer letter signed by his boss to prove his salary:
January 5, 2011

Dear Dr. Qiwen Mu,
As you know, you are relatively unique in the world in some of your clinical and research training and knowledge. You have worked with Dr. Elliot Stein, who is a world leader in brain imaging and addictions. We were able to recruit you to MUSC where you worked for many years with our groups and learned and developed new techniques with image data analysis and TMS. You are also clinically trained as a neuroradiologist and have passed the required board examinations for licensure.

Based on your unique skills and knowledge, I would like to offer you the following positions - Senior Investigator Faculty (Professorship), Chief Scientist, Radiologist, and Mentor in Doctoral
and Postdoctoral Programs at Brain Stimulation laboratory, Medical University of South Carolina. Your responsibilities would include, but would not be limited to, interleaved TMS-fMRI, perfusion, diffusion, and spectroscopy. You will also be involved in clinical trials as well.
The annual salary for this position would be USD 450K.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Mark S. George, MD
Distinguished University Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and
Director, Brain Stimulation Laboratory
Founding Director, Center for Advanced Imaging Research (CAIR)
MUSC Director, SC Brain Imaging Center of Excellence
Editor-in-Chief, Brain Stimulation: Basic, Translational and
Clinical Research in Neuromodulation
Dr Mu Qiwen challenged his detractors to contact Dr. Mark George for verification.

Although the evidence appeared convincing, suspicion grew nevertheless, especially from the awkward language used in the offer letter. Multiple inquires were indeed sent to Dr. Mark George's way, to which he replied thusly:

Dear Doctors:

I am confused and am not clear what has happened.

Dr. Mu was indeed a scientist working in our lab at MUSC for many years. He left last year to return to China. He told me that he was offered a position to do research in China involving imaging and TMS. He suggested that we try and continue collaborations, which I encouraged.

While at MUSC he was a very good and hard working scientist with numerous publications. He is trained as a research scientist and as a neuroradiologist. After he announced that he was returning to China, we offered him a continued appointment at MUSC, non-paid, in order to
continue analyzing data and potentially applying for grants.

In December Dr. Mu returned to Charleston and asked me to re-issue an offer letter. If Dr. Mu were available in the US we would indeed like to have him rejoin our faculty. I informed him that I would not be able to make a formal offer as I am not head of my department (psychiatry) and that it would take higher administrative approval and several months to get a fully binding letter. He asked that I sign the letter below which I read. He stated that he needed it signed and soon in order to apply for collaborative grants. I was confused. When I saw the salary level, I was surprised, as it is over twice my salary and I have been here 20 years. However, Dr. Mu is trained as a neuroradiologist, and their clinical salaries are higher than a psychiatrists. He found the salary number as the national average of neuroradiologists. It is not clear if he could serve as a clinical neuroradiologist without taking the US boards and completing a US fellowship.

I have no information about the number of houses or other issues you raise.

I am a bit astonished to be bothered by this exchange and I hope this email clarifies things.



Mark S. George, MD
Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neurosciences
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC 29425
So there you have it, Dr. Mu Qiwen had manufactured his own position and salary, making himself a much bigger asset for his motherland.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ministry of Science and Technology Revokes an Award

Almost a year after Xi'an Jiaotong University fired its professor Li Liansheng for fraud after a lengthy and difficult campaign by six elder professors, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China finally reached a decision to revoke an award it had given to Li Liansheng in 2005.

The ministry cited severe plagiarism and inaccurate economic impact data in the application for the reason for its action.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fudan University Under Fire for its Plagiarism Decision

The controversial decision by Fudan University's Committee of Scholarly Standard that Professor Zhu Xueqin did not commit plagiarism in his Ph. D. thesis continues to draw attention on the Internet forums in China. Several print media also published reports questioning if the academic community in China is capable of policing itself.

Fang Zhouzi publishes more examples of Zhu Xueqin's thesis that were translated from Carol Blum's published book, including many "low-level mistakes" in misunderstanding and misinterpreting the original in English.

More damagingly, however, is an open letter published by more than a dozen of netters from an Internet forum where netter "Isaiah" raised his initial accusation. The authors of this open letter expressed their opinion that Zhu Xueqin had committed plagiarism "even by the loosest standard" and their worry that Fudan University's "partial and contradictory" conclusion could lead to a big setback in China's academic integrity.

The lengthy open letter disputes Fudan's claim that they do not accept anonymous leads, pointing out that they had indeed taken up cases originated from anonymous sources in the past. It also claimed that the investigation chose to narrow its scope so as to avoid the most damaging accusations being raised and its conclusion is self-contradictory. The Committee's spokesperson Professor Ge Jianxiong had said that they did not investigate the entire thesis (because it was out of the scope of the investigation) but nevertheless announced that the thesis "as a whole" was an adequate academic work.

The open letter also questions the Committee's verdict that Zhu Xueqin's thesis indeed contained "irregularities". It states that even the few "irregularities" listed by Ge Jianxiong as examples should have already qualified the work to be classified as plagiarism according to the common sense and norm of academic standards.

Finally, the open letter points out that plagiarism is plagiarism, even when the original author had granted permission to use his work. Zhu Xueqin's thesis had included passages from other scholar's work without citation, a practice that the Fudan Committee appeared to have found acceptable.

The open letter has by now received more than 200 signatories, including more than 30 with real names.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fudan University Whitewashes a Plagiarism Case

Professor Zhu Xueqin (朱学勤) of Shanghai University is an outspoken scholar who has been involved in more than one controversy for his speeches. His latest trouble, however, comes from the content of his Ph. D. thesis in history, which he completed in 1992 at Fudan University. The thesis has been published in book form in several editions, receiving critical acclaim and popularity.

In July last year, a netter wrote to New Threads pointing out that the book, The End of Morally Idealist Nation, contained many passages that are plagiarized. Specifically, the netter claimed that Zhu Xueqin had lifted the Chinese translations of the book Sister Revolution: French Lightning, American Light by the American author Susan Dunn. Zhu Xueqin did mention the book in his preface, but neglected to mention its translated version and also left impression that the lifted passages were his own work.

About the same time, the apparently same netter published more detailed allegations in Internet forums in China with the pseudonym "Isaiah". In addition to Susan Dunn's work, Isaiah found more sources from which Zhu Xueqin has plagiarized passages, including that of a Chinese scholar Gao Yi (高毅) and the English book Rousseau and the Republic of Virtue: the Language of Politics in the French Revolution by Carol Blum.

Zhu Xueqin did not back down from the accusations. In fact, he referred the case to the Fudan University's Committee for Scholarly Standard himself, seeking an official redemption. He also submitted a lengthy essay in defense.

Half a year later, the Committee publicized its verdict. It declared that Zhu Xueqin's thesis and book contained irregularities in providing end notes and citations, as well as mistakes and misinterpretations in translations from foreign languages, but nonetheless did not commit plagiarism.

In the specific case of using Gao Yi's work, the Committee accepted Zhu Xueqin's explanation that Gao Yi himself had agreed on his usage, although the work was not properly cited as so. For the English books, the Committee noted that a part of his thesis was originally intended to be a preface for the translation of Susan Dunn's book, so a lack of citation or notes in that scenario is acceptable. As for Carol Blum's book, the Committee noted that the book was cited in the beginning of the thesis.

As soon as the Committee's conclusion was made public, both Isaiah and Fang Zouzi voiced strong objections.

Fang Zhouzi then made his own investigation and found that as many as 18,000 characters in Zhu Xueqin's thesis were direct translations from Carol Blum's book, most of which without citation. These passages even included end notes from Carol Blum's book itself, but made it appear as the author's own citations. He also pointed out a few obvious mistakes in Zhu Xueqin's translation work and concluded that, "if the thesis were original, then it's plagiarism; if the thesis were a translation, then it's of low quality."

Fang Zhouzi also expressed his disappointment in Professor Ge Jianxiong (葛剑雄), a member of the Fudan Committee who spearheaded the investigation. Ge Jianxiong has been outspoken in the past, advocating a "zero-tolerance" policy for academic fraud.