US$595 Million Taiwan National Research Project Retracted due to Multiple Plagiarism

US$595 Million Taiwan National Research Project Retracted due to Multiple Plagiarism
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What you need to know

Taiwan government's over-emphasis on producing more papers on Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) has resulted in issues where researchers often strive for quick success and instant benefits instead of making long-term plans.

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In 2014, an academic publishing scandal involving former National Pingtung University of Education (NPUE) associate professor, Peter Chen, erupted and drew considerable attention from the international academia.

Chen was found creating a fraudulent peer-review ring that made fake online accounts and favorably reviewed his papers. 60 papers co-authored by Chen were retracted from the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) and five of the papers listed then Taiwan’s Education Minister, Chiang Wei-ling, as a co-author. Chen resigned from his post in February 2014. The scandal marked a big stain on Taiwan’s academia and also led to Chiang’s resignation from the Ministry of Education (MOE).

About two years after the incident, another international academic scandal involving a Taiwanese researcher has broken out. Retraction Watch, an American blog that reports on retracted academic papers, published a post on January 11, 2016, unveiling that Lu Shyi-min, former research assistant at National Taiwan University’s Energy Research Center, plagiarized other research studies multiple times and recycled his own works to compose new published articles and violating academic ethics. Lu agreed to withdraw ten papers from several international academic journals.

The research project Lu worked in was National Energy Program-Phase I, which was conducted by NTU and commissioned by Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

UDN reports, the Minister of Education, Wu Se-hwa, says that the scandal has damaged the reputation of Taiwan’s academia, and that researchers and universities have to reflect on the incident, reexamine academic ethics, and revise the assessment criteria for research studies and research projects. National Energy Program-Phase I was funded more than NT$20 billion (approximately US$595 million) over five years by MOST and the Ministry and Economic Affairs (MOEA). MOST commissioned NTU to run the program and assess research progress and results.

Liberty Times reports, Lin Yi-bing, deputy minister of MOST, said on January 12 that he had not been informed that there was scandal in the program. MOST will form an academic ethics committee to investigate the case. Under MOST’s regulations, if papers are used to apply for the program or used as research results under the program, the nominal authors cannot be free of responsibility by claiming that they did not know anything about the papers. Lin admitted that because MOST funds a lot of projects, it is difficult to supervise all of them and notice possible problems.

Liberty Times reports, Liu Yuan-chun, emeritus professor of Soochow University, says that MOE and MOST’s over emphasis on producing more papers on Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) has resulted in issues where researchers often strive for quick success and instant benefits instead of making long-term plans.

Liu also mentions that there are multiple big-scale national research projects that cost a lot but have little results. Most legislators are not familiar with technology research, so it is easy for government officials to get away with it when they are questioned by the legislature.

Translated and compiled by Bing-sheng Lee
Edited by Olivia Yang

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