The quantity of academic papers produced is not the only criteria by which promotions or research funds are awarded to academics, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Lin Yi-bing (林一平) said yesterday in comments about a case of alleged academic fraud involving a local professor and Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧).
The case revolves around Chen Chen-yuan (陳震遠), also known as Peter Chen, a former associate professor of computer science at National Pingtung University of Education, who has been accused of academic fraud after 60 of his articles were retracted by the Journal of Vibration and Control.
Chiang is listed as a co-author on five of the 60 papers that were pulled.
The Journal of Vibration and Control, a leading international publication in the field of acoustics, accused Chen of creating 130 fraudulent online accounts to pose as academics and give his papers favorable peer reviews to get them published more easily, foreign media reports say.
Lin said that the science ministry has found that it may have funded research used in 40 of Chen’s pulled articles, totaling about NT$5.08 million (US$169,200), and that if Chen is found to have violated academic ethics, the ministry will demand the return of all funding awarded to him and permanently bar him from applying for grants.
The case has highlighted the issue of quantity versus quality among science publications as their authors seek to earn credits to gain faculty promotions.
Lin said that quantity is “a terrible index” on which to measure academic papers and that having too many published articles could hamper applicants’ chances of obtaining funding from the science ministry for research.
Regarding promotions, he said that it is the Ministry of Education that makes such decisions.
However, he also said that the academic sector has in recent years been placing more emphasis on academics’ achievements and the impact of their papers rather than on the volume of pieces written.
Meanwhile, National Dong Hwa University president Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆), a former minister in the now-defunct National Science Council, has raised questions about the sheer number of papers Chen submitted to the journal.
Considering the time it takes to write an academic paper and obtain peer reviews, it is puzzling that Chen could have written or co-authored 60 articles for one journal, Wu said.
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