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Hunan University strips degree in plagiarism case

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-04 10:55

Hunan University has stripped a student of her master's degree after confirming academic misconduct, the university said on Tuesday.

It said that Liu Mengjie, who graduated in 2018, plagiarized her master's dissertation from a confidential proposal for research funding from a national science organization.

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

Hong was a judge for the proposal and did not destroy it in a timely manner. Liu subsequently used it in her dissertation, the university said.

An accusation by a Sina Weibo user on March 27 said Liu's master's dissertation plagiarized an earlier research proposal that the user had written to obtain national science funding.

The Weibo user, who said she was a teacher at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, said the 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 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.

After a handful of high-profile academic misconduct cases tarnished the reputation of the country's postgraduate education, the Ministry of Education asked universities with advanced degree programs to strengthen their supervision of postgraduate students, including enrollment and management.

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

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

The ministry said it has zero tolerance for academic misconduct and will hold violators accountable.

The academic misconduct case of actor Zhai Tianlin turned a spotlight on the lack of supervision of academic writing among postgraduate students. The Beijing Film Academy stripped Zhai of his doctoral degree after it identified academic misconduct. Peking University also removed Zhai from its postdoctoral research program.

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