Academic dishonesty prevalent: top lawyer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2006, 12:00am

The scandal exposed yesterday concerning Shanghai Jiaotong University professor Chen Jin was not just about academic integrity but more whether the government had done enough to promote honesty and discourage the blind pursuit of profit, an academic and lawyers said yesterday.

Commenting on the scandal, prominent lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said yesterday that academic dishonesty had become a prevalent problem because the risk of being caught was too low.

'First, the government is just not encouraging honesty,' Mr Pu said.

'The mechanism of monitoring and check is simply lacking. And the price to pay after being caught is too low to deter anybody from taking the risk.'

Xinhua yesterday said a joint government investigation found that Dr Chen, who claimed he had developed the 'Hanxin' series of computer chips, had 'committed serious falsification and fraud'.

Mr Pu said the government has not done enough to promote honesty in the society and most people believed it was alright to get rich by any means.

Fellow lawyer Teng Biao said although the scandal appeared to be an issue of integrity, it exposed the inadequacy of government supervision over academics.

He said the government must strengthen supervision and improve transparency in order to stop malpractice.

Both Mr Pu and Mr Teng have represented a claimant in a plagiarism lawsuit.

Ge Jianxiong, a history professor of Fudan University who has written about academic fraud, said the disgraced academic should face criminal punishment, rather than just administrative punishment.

'Our system in preventing such academic fraud is very weak. Many people want to or are required to make progress regardless of their actual capabilities,' he said.

He added that the government should oversee the quality of inventions and should also take responsibility for the case.