2017-08-10 10:05:51

A hospital director in eastern China has been accused of plagiarizing his students’ papers for his own doctoral dissertation, Beijing-based newspaper China Youth Daily reported Thursday.

Cai Jianchun, a prominent oncologist, holds the titles of director of Xiamen University-affiliated Zhongshan Hospital and executive vice president of the university’s medical school. He is also a recipient of the country’s highest medical research award for significant contributions to the medical field, for which he now receives a special grant from the State Council, China’s cabinet.

China Youth Daily discovered that over half of Cai’s doctoral dissertation overlaps with two of his students’ master’s theses. In the acknowledgements section of his paper, Cai offers “special thanks” to the two students for their “help and support in this research.”

This is not the first time Cai has been accused of plagiarizing his 2010 dissertation on physics and polymeric chemistry. In March, he was lambasted on Twitter and its Chinese equivalent, Weibo, for alleged plagiarism, though the claims could not be verified. Xiamen University’s graduate school in July announced on its official website that there is an “ongoing investigation,” the results of which have not yet been made public.

Xiamen University is part of Project 211, a consortium of the nation’s leading universities that aims to improve higher education over the course of the 21st century. Sixth Tone could not immediately reach the university or Zhongshan Hospital for comment on Thursday.

High-profile plagiarism cases are not uncommon in China’s academic community. In July 2016, domestic media uncovered a ring of ghostwritten academic papers involving students and professors at over 500 colleges and universities in China.

In late 2015, media reported on more than a hundred scholarly articles being retracted from academic journals due to fraudulent peer reviews. In April of this year, an international scientific journal, Tumor Biology, retracted dozens of papers by Chinese scientists for the same reason. And in early August, a professor in Hebei retracted his thesis on a new gene-editing technique from the journal Nature Biotechnology because his international peers were unable to reproduce its results.

In 2016, the China’s Ministry of Education issued a nationwide measure to “effectively prevent and strictly investigate” dishonorable behavior at higher education institutions. According to the new guideline, those responsible for academic misconduct should be criticized in a written notice circulated throughout their university, as well as have their research projects canceled and their academic awards and honors revoked.

A spokesman was quoted on the ministry’s website as saying that although there should be “zero tolerance for academic misbehavior,” the system of oversight, as it currently exists, is too incomplete and ineffective to detect and punish all instances of misconduct.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: E+/VCG)