Tue, Oct 29, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Lawmaker accuses Tsai Ing-wen of self-plagiarism

CITATION DEBATE:Apollo Chen said that the Presidential Office’s defense of the president was an attempt to distract people from the real issue of a lack of citation

By Rachel Lin and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang speaks at a news conference in Taipei on Sept. 23.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) yesterday accused President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of self-plagiarism, saying he believed that she had simply translated work from her English-language London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) doctoral dissertation in a Chinese-language article she wrote.

Information that the Presidential Office shared at a news conference on Sept. 23 showed that Tsai turned in her LSE dissertation in June 1983, completed the oral defense in October that year and received notification in January 1984 that she had passed the defense.

At a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday, Chen said that in the same month Tsai submitted her dissertation, a Chinese-language article authored by her was published in National Chengchi University’s (NCCU) Chengchi Law Review titled “The Protection of the Chinese Market in International Trade — GATT Article 19, VER and MFA” (國際貿易中國市場之保護 — GATT 第十九條, VER及MFA).

Chen said that although he did not know which of the two was submitted first, the contents of Chapter 5 of the dissertation and the article are “highly repetitive and similar.”

More than half of each document can be seen as English and Chinese versions of the other, he said, adding that neither the dissertation nor the article mentions the existence of or cites the other.

Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) cited self-plagiarism for refusing to promote former Shu-Te University assistant professor Chen Pi-yun (陳碧雲) to associate professor, Apollo Chen said, adding that Ministry of Education guidelines in cases involving academic ethics at university level or above state that the use of large portions of an author’s own previously published work without appropriate citation is self-plagiarism.

Apollo Chen asked whether the ministry would revoke Tsai’s promotion from associate professor to professor at NCCU — a process that included use of the article in her academic credentials — if the ministry finds that she did plagiarize herself.

Pan said that the ministry would follow new procedural laws and old substantive laws, as well as other regulations, to handle any investigation, when and if a report is filed.

An investigation would be launched according to procedures, he said, adding that such inquiries typically take four months.

In academic ethics cases, an institution first needs to investigate whether the allegations are true or false, Department of Higher Education Director-General Chu Chun-chang (朱俊彰) said.

The institute would then forward its decision to the ministry, which would review it, Chu said.

Later yesterday, the Presidential Office said in a statement that Apollo Chen was “pointing to a deer and calling it a horse.”

It is common practice in academia for unpublished dissertations to be submitted to and published in reviewed journals or books, it said.

Dissertations that have not been published as journal articles are considered “unpublished academic achievements,” it said, adding that most academics submit their doctoral dissertations for review to be published in journals or books.

The “farce” of accusations over Tsai’s education and dissertation should end here, it said.

Apollo Chen said that while submitting content from doctoral dissertations to journals is common practice, self-citations still need to be disclosed.

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