Ghostwriting, plagiarizing or faking results is so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China's efforts to become a leader in science.

Some excerpts from the Yahoo! News item linked above:

State-run media recently exulted over reports that China publishes more papers in international journals than any except the U.S. But not all the research stands up to scrutiny. In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated.

When professors in China need to author research papers to get promoted, many turn to people like Lu Keqian. Working on his laptop in a cramped spare bedroom, the former schoolteacher ghostwrites for professors, students, government offices — anyone willing to pay his fee, typically about 300 yuan ($45). "My opinion is that writing papers for someone else is not wrong," he said. "There will always be a time when one needs help from others. Even our great leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping needed help writing."

Dan Ben-Canaan is familiar with plagiarism.The Israeli professor has been teaching for nine years at Heilongjiang University in the northeastern city of Harbin. A colleague approached him in 2008 for a paper he wrote about the kidnapping and murder of a Jewish musician in Harbin in 1933 during the Japanese occupation. "He had the audacity to present it as his own paper at a conference that I organized," Ben-Canaan said. "Without any shame!"

The pressure to publish has created a ghostwriting boom. Nearly 1 billion yuan (more than $145 million) was spent on academic papers in China last year, up fivefold from 2007, a study by Wuhan University professor Shen Yang showed.
One company providing such a service is Lu's, in Liuzhou, a southern industrial city. His Lu Ke Academic Center boasts a network of 20 to 30 graduate students and professors whose specialties range from computer technology to military affairs.

UPDATE: The original link appears to be dead but the article is still available at many locations, e.g. here.



April 2012

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