The recent scandal involving the removal of a sociology professor from the prestigious Nanjing University, comes amidst sweeping academic misconduct reforms designed to clean up and build integrity for China’s field of scientific research.
Liang Ying, 39, was accused of plagiarism that which she admitted on 24 October, 2018. The investigation into her case revealed she had plagiarised and published her work in more than one journal.
Liang’s dismissal comes soon after China announced new guidelines for the enforcement of academic integrity, specifically in the field of science.
According to state news source, Xinhua, anyone found guilty of misconduct will be severely punished. Released in May, 2018 by the State Council, the new guidelines prohibit plagiarism, fabrication of data and research conclusions, ghost-writing and peer review.
In Liang’s case it was reported by China Global Television Network (CGTN), that her punishment so far includes a warning on her record, her postgraduate tutor qualifications revoked and her Yangtze River Scholarship awards cancelled.
“Scandals in recent years involving things like faked research, plagiarism and problematic peer review standards have dented China’s reputation as a growing force in the world of scientific research”, say Reuters.
Liang joined Nanjing University in 2009, the same year its schools of Modern Engineering and Applied Sciences was established. Nanjing University, which is ranked 91st worldwide, is ranked 7th domestically and is widely accepted as a strong scientific study base.
“Social punishment” is soon to be imposed upon those found guilty of academic misconduct. Such punishments are reported to include the prevention of bank loans, business rights or public-service jobs, reports International Journal of Science; Nature (IJSN), in an article that was released on 14 December, 2018.
The article states that “under the new policy, dozens of government agencies will have the power to hand out penalties to those caught committing major scientific misconduct”. Similar to the country’s nationwide Social Credit System, whereby citizens are either rewarded or punished for good or bad behaviour, social punishment for academic misconduct is said to affect “almost all aspects of guilty scientists daily life”, Nanjing University professor of Science and Technology, Chen Bikun, told IJSN.
Liang, who has been nicknamed Professor 404, due to the disappearance of her papers online, told Shanghai news source, The Paper, that she resigned from Nanjing University on 26 October, over “vicious attacks” and pressure from the media, public and colleagues.