A company providing access to an online database of academic theses and dissertations has been accused of cooperating with Chinese political censorship and content revisions.
Media reports said that master’s theses and doctoral dissertations by students at local universities, including National Taiwan University (NTU), had all instances of “my country” changed to “Taiwan.”
Not a single word should be changed in papers authorized by students and professors, NTU president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said yesterday on the sidelines of an NTU event.
Photo: Wu Po-hsuan, Taipei Times
No one is allowed to revise papers that have been authorized, he said, adding that it was a fundamental rule in academia.
For example, it would be unreasonable if automated translation software changed every mention of “New Taiwan dollar” in a paper to “New Chinese Taipei dollar,” he said.
The university would ask businesses not to make changes, he said.
The Ministry of Education said that the nation’s sovereignty should not be belittled.
The ministry would instruct universities and colleges to evaluate their database vendors, it said.
If improper actions are found, universities should immediately demand that the vendors make improvements, it said, adding that the universities should terminate their contracts if no improvements are made.
Airiti (華藝) — the vendor in question — said in a statement on Wednesday that when it exports Taiwanese academic content, the content is in its original form.
The Chinese market has certain particularities, so the metadata can be tweaked to increase the possibility of the content being discovered in an online search, but the body of a work would not be touched, Airiti said.
NTU sociology professor Ho Ming-sho (何明修) wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that a keyword search of his full name resulted in 23 hits on Airitilibrary.cn and 57 results on Airitilibrary.com, despite the databases belonging to the same company.
Not all of the 57 search results on the second platform were his articles, but articles of his that were missing could be considered “sensitive,” including a 2017 article titled “The Third Force and Umbrella Soldiers: Comparing the Elections of Taiwan after the Sunflower Movement and Hong Kong after the Umbrella Movement,” Ho said.
An Airiti representative said that it is inevitable that different countries and regions have different regulations.
The company can only respect that a database subscriber chooses the content they need, the representative said.
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