SHANGHAI - A report that determines an academic paper by Chinese historian and intellectual Zhu Xueqin is not plagiarism has triggered controversy online, including calls for further investigation.
Earlier this month, Fudan University's Academic Advisory Committee released its investigation report, which rejected an anonymous charge of plagiarism against its former PhD student Zhu, who is now a history professor at Shanghai University.
The report said Zhu's paper The Collapse of Moral Utopia has some problems that fail to meet academic norms, such as omitting some references to the relevant published work of others. However, the report said these are minor problems and could not be deemed as plagiarism.
The investigation identified the major ideas and thoughts as Zhu's own.
Zhu Xueqin is a history professor at Shanghai University.
However on Saturday, more than 100 users of the online community newsmith.net jointly signed an open letter against the investigation report, claiming it was "problematic and full of contradictions" and saying the conclusion may harm China's academic studies.
"Given the existing evidence, Zhu's paper should be considered plagiarism," the letter said.
Fang Zhouzi, the well-known "science cop" for battling academic fraud and pseudoscience, also questioned the report.
He said on Sunday that he had made allegations of academic fraud by Zhu using his name because the Academic Advisory Committee of Fudan University had said it wouldn't receive anonymous reports claiming academic misconduct. He said he had sent, by express mail, detailed information and materials to Yu Wujin, director of the committee.
Plagiarism was first alleged in July 2010, when a popular online post said Zhu's The Collapse of Moral Utopia, which was published in 1994, had cribbed from several overseas books including Rousseau and the Republic of Virtue by American scholar Carol Blum.
The online poster Isaiah, a PhD candidate who declined to reveal his or her true identity, had offered samples of evidence and said Zhu copied lengthy paragraphs without attribution. Isaiah said Zhu had copied the book's main idea and structure.
The post sparked hot debate online and received wide media coverage.
Zhu then publicly said he had made annotations and had already listed the book's name in the references.
Meanwhile, he asked officials at Fudan University, where he received his doctorate in 1992, to investigate the matter to help clear his name.
Zhu has also offered to quit his job at Shanghai University if his paper is determined to be plagiarism.
Now in the face of denunciations from netizens and Fang, Zhu said he welcomes well-intended criticism from everyone, according to a China National Radio report.
(China Daily 01/25/2011 page5)