Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) has ordered the Ministry of Science and Technology to look into an academic publishing scandal involving Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧), Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said yesterday.
The directive came in the wake of accusations that National Pingtung University associate professor Chen Chen-yuan (陳震遠) committed academic fraud after 60 articles submitted by Chen were withdrawn from the Journal of Vibration and Control over allegations of falsified peer reviews.
Five of the retracted papers have Chiang listed as a coauthor.
Chiang on Friday convened a press briefing in which he denied any involvement in the alleged fraud.
Sun yesterday quoted Jiang as saying he felt “sorrow” over the scandal, adding that Chiang sought the premier out to clarify his role in the incident as soon as he found out that five of the publications in question cited him as a coauthor.
Sun said he did not know the details of the conversation between Jiang and Chiang, adding that the premier had asked the minister to clear the matter up with the public, which Chiang sought to do at the press conference on Friday.
The scandal has prompted calls for Chiang to be suspended until the incident is resolved, but Sun said the premier has not yet made a decision on that yet.
“Right now, we are waiting for the results of the investigation,” the Executive Yuan spokesman said.
Separately yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝潁) called on Chiang to assume responsibility in the matter.
The scandal has gained worldwide coverage from news outlets such as the New York Times and the Guardian, Huang said, adding that a report in the Los Angeles Times said there could be other suspects involved.
Huang said that the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology should shoulder their responsibilities and launch probe to determine the existence of academic fraud, how long it has existed and how many people are involved.
It is important that any person found guilty of such fraud be punished according to the law to preserved the nation’s academic reputation, the DPP spokesman said, adding that these people’s promotions and grants should be revoked.
Huang also called into question Chiang’s claim that he did not know beforehand that he was listed as a coauthor in the five withdrawn papers, with the spokesman saying that the articles were all listed under the section detailing on the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Web site detailing Chiang’s publications.
“How could he not know about their existence?” Huang said, adding that the Ministry of Education should also investigate Chiang.
According to DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), the practice of equating the number of times a paper is cited to its academic achievement has cuased many problems in the nation’s academic circles.
The retracted articles serve as a rude awakening for Taiwanese academics that it is time to curb the “ridiculous” trend of name-dropping, Kuan said.