Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Ghostwriters threaten universities, DPP says

GHASTLY THREAT The increasing number of students who choose to have others write their papers is hurting the quality of university education, DPP lawmakers said

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hiring ghostwriters to finish research papers, theses or dissertations has become a widespread phenomenon at Taiwanese universities, legislators said. They yesterday urged the Ministry of Education to come up with solutions to what they say is a growing problem.

"The ghostwriting of theses or dissertations has caused great damage to the quality of higher education. The [ministry] should take action to stop such a trend," said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) yesterday.

During a press conference held to raise awareness about ghostwriting, Huang and three other DPP legislators, including Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬), Eva Hsieh (謝欣霓) and Winston Dang (陳重信), invited a graduate student and ministry officials to talk about the problem.

According to Hsieh, the ghostwriting of academic papers makes evident the lack of a thesis or dissertation review system at the nation's colleges and universities.

"Our institutes of higher learning should put more emphasis on oral exams and review of a student's academic performance," Hsieh said.

A Google.com search of college Bulletin Board System sites displayed at the press conference showed that information about thesis ghostwriting services or ghostwriter advertisements were easy to come by on the Internet.

"I have friends who ghostwrote theses or dissertations for other students or hire people to write their papers. [Ghostwriting] is becoming popular, and you can find everything about ghostwriting easily online," said the graduate student who wished to remain anonymous.

According to statistics from the ministry, the number of graduate schools has grown from 623 to 2,215 between 1994 and 2003. The quality of higher education, however, failed to keep pace with the growing number of school, the legislators said.

Responding to the criticism, Ma Hsiang-ping (馬湘萍), section chief of the Higher Education Department at the ministry, said that Article 7 of the Academic Degree Granting Law stipulated that copying other people's work or cheating on a thesis paper would cost a student their degree.

Since ghostwriting is considered cheating, students who hire someone to ghostwrite for them would be punished with expulsion, Ma said.

"In addition, we will ask colleges and universities to tighten their academic review system to prevent ghostwriting from taking place," Ma added.

According to the research done by the legislators, ghostwriting is popular among students in the liberal arts and business schools.

"Besides focusing more on oral examinations in the review process, replacing traditional dissertations with creative projects, such as performances or displays, could be an alternative to assessing a student's academic achievement," Cheng said.

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