Opinion / From the Press

A bold move against plagiarism

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-27 10:49

The Chinese Journal of Journalism and Communication, a major academic journal, has accused Yu Yanru, who has doctorate's degree in history from Peking University, of plagiarism in her thesis that was published in the journal. Peking University has announced that it would revoke Yu's doctorate and graduation degrees and other certificates if the accusation is true. The rare charge of plagiarism by a leading journal shows that institutions of higher learning are acting tough on plagiarists, says an article in Qianjiang Evening News. Excerpts:

Increasingly severe punishment, based on the fast development of database and anti-plagiarism software, has resulted in a drop in plagiarism cases in the academia. But students are changing their "strategy" by turning to sources that are less likely to be included in the database. For instance, many are copying from literary sources in Taiwan, particularly books before 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded.

Yu's thesis was published because the software failed to detect that she had "copied" from overseas literature. As a matter of fact, no anti-plagiarism database can include every piece of literature from across the world. Therefore, measures have to be taken to strengthen integrity in the academic circle to eradicate plagiarism.

Usually, plagiarism is covered up or those who plagiarize go without being punished because of rampant corruption and vested interests holding positions of power in the academia. That's why the Chinese Journal of Journalism and Communication's decision to accuse Yu of plagiarizing should be appreciated.

If Peking University does indeed penalize Yu for plagiarism - if the charge is proved true, that is - it will serve as a serious warning to others not to use unfair means to earn academic degrees.

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