Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cheating in China

Pressure on scholars by administrators of state-run universities to earn journal citations — a measure of innovation — has produced a deluge of plagiarized or fabricated research. In December, a British journal that specializes in crystal formations announced that it was withdrawing more than 70 papers by Chinese authors whose research was of questionable originality or rigor. ...

Last month a collection of scientific journals published by Zhejiang University in Hangzhou reignited the firestorm by publicizing results from a 20-month experiment with software that detects plagiarism. The software, called CrossCheck, rejected nearly a third of all submissions on suspicion that the content was pirated from previously published research. In some cases, more than 80 percent of a paper’s content was deemed unoriginal. ...

The problem is not confined to the realm of science. In fact many educators say the culture of cheating takes root in high school, where the competition for slots in the country’s best colleges is unrelenting and high marks on standardized tests are the most important criterion for admission. Ghost-written essays and test questions can be bought. So, too, can a “hired gun” test taker who will assume the student’s identity for the grueling two-day college entrance exam.

Then there are the gadgets — wristwatches and pens embedded with tiny cameras — that transmit signals to collaborators on the outside who then relay back the correct answers. ...

Ask any Chinese student about academic skullduggery and the response is startlingly nonchalant. Arthur Lu, an engineering student who last spring graduated from Tsinghua University, considered a plum of the country’s college system, said it was common for students to swap test answers or plagiarize essays from one another.
--Andrew Jacobs, NYT, on questionable Chinese academic credentials. HT: Bryan Choi

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