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Hunan U revokes master's degree over plagiarism

By ZOU SHUO | | Updated: 2019-04-03 11:25

Hunan University has stripped Liu Mengjie, who graduated from the university in 2018, of her master's degree after the university confirmed Liu committed academic misconduct, the university said on Tuesday.

Liu's supervisor, Hong Yuan, has been barred from supervising any postgraduate candidates and removed from teaching positions, the university said in a statement.

Liu's master's dissertation plagiarized a confidential proposal for research funding from a national science organization written by a teacher at a university in Yunnan province, it said.

Hong, a judge to evaluate the proposal, did not destroy it in time and Liu took the liberty of copying the proposal in her dissertation, it added.

The statement came after a post from a Sina Weibo user on March 27 accused Liu of plagiarizing in her master's dissertation an earlier research proposal the user had written for national science funding.

The Weibo user, who claimed to be a teacher at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, said that proposal had been submitted in 2017 to the National Natural Science Foundation of China, which allocates resources from the country's National Natural Science Fund.

The user said that after the proposal was rejected, she continued researching the same topic for her doctoral dissertation, using much of the proposal's text.

She ran her completed doctoral dissertation through a plagiarism detection tool in March and found that Liu's master's dissertation was highly similar to her work.

The Ministry of Education has asked universities with advanced degree programs to strengthen their supervision of student enrollment and management after a few high-profile academic misconduct cases tarnished the reputation of the country's postgraduate education.

This year the ministry will run random checks on around 6,000 doctoral dissertations for plagiarism, accounting for 10 percent of total dissertations written last year, it said on Tuesday.

A budget of 8 million yuan ($1.19 million) will be allocated for random dissertation inspection and each dissertation will be reviewed by three experts, the ministry said.

The ministry said it has zero tolerance for academic misconduct, such as plagiarism, and universities should scrutinize every step of graduate writing, from choosing research topics to the dissertation defense.

The academic misconduct case of actor Zhai Tianlin has shed light on the lack of supervision of academic writing among postgraduate students. Zhai, found guilty of academic misconduct, was stripped of his doctoral degree at Beijing Film Academy. Peking University also removed Zhai from its postdoctoral research program.

Universities and education authorities should also carry out more inspections and random checks on students' academic papers and hold violators accountable, it added.

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