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Thu, Sep 07, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Professors irked over university president choice

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Professors at National Chungshing University (NCU, 中興大學) questioned yesterday the qualifications of a candidate in line to become the school's next president, saying that a plagiarist was ill-suited for the position.

Professors allege that Peng Tso-kwei (彭作奎), a professor in the university's department of agricultural economics who has been tipped as the school's next president, has passed off work from American scholars as his own.

They say two works on agricultural economics penned by Peng bear remarkable similarities to research by William Tomek, Kenneth Robinson and Bruce Gardner, agricultural professors in the US.

"A person who does not tell the truth about his academic research is not qualified to be our president," said Wu Ming-ming (吳明敏), a professor in the university's agriculture department and president of the school's professors' association.

Wu, armed with a pile of documents which he says proves his case, said that there was in fact little doubt that Peng had plagiarized the American scholars' works.

"Just looking at the two copies is sufficient enough to prove that Peng can not be a president of the school," Wu said, adding that he disapproved of the Ministry of Education's choice of Peng.

The publications in question are the 1991 book The analysis and theory of agricultural product prices and a 1990 journal piece, "The impacts of trade liberalization on agricultural production and the farmer's share in Taiwan," both of which Peng wrote.

"More than 80 percent of the content of Peng's book is similar to Agricultural product prices," Wu said, referring to the 1985 work by William Tomek and Kenneth Robinson, professors at Cornell University.

Furthermore, Wu said, Peng's book has been reprinted four times and is still available on the market, in contradiction to Peng's claim that the book was printed just once.

Wu said that Peng's journal piece, which first appeared in the Journal of Agricultural Economics in 1990, was identical to a piece called, "The farm-retail price spread in a competitive food industry," written by Bruce Gardner, professor of the agricultural and resource economics department of the University of Maryland.

"What makes Peng more contestable is that he did not even include Gardner's journal on the reference list at the end of his essay," Wu said.

In response to the accusation, Peng told the Taipei Times that he utilized the book by Tomek and Robinson as a reference while he was working on his own book. In addition, he said, three reprints of his book were made without his approval.

Regarding the journal piece, Peng said he did not consider the work to be plagiarism. "How can you accuse someone of being a plagiarist when one writes the formula: 1+1=2 in his book?" he said.

Wu told the Taipei Times that he had sent a copy of Peng's book and journal piece to the three American professors and would leave any legal action up to them.

Peng, former chairman of the Council of Agriculture, is the most likely candidate to take NCU's top post among the three candidates elected by the school's 622 faculty members.

According to University Law, the education ministry is entitled to choose the president among a proposed list of candidates chosen by the school's election committee.

Peng won 161 votes, or the second-highest number of ballots. Chen Ming-tsao (陳明造), the university's dean of the school of agriculture, was the top vote-getter with 183 ballots.

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