Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Chinese academia ghost-writing 'widespread'

Chinese graduates (generic image)
China is second to the US in the number of academic papers produced

More than $100m (£63m) changes hands in China every year for ghost-written academic papers, according to research by a Chinese university.

The study, by Wuhan University, says Chinese academics and students often buy and sell scientific papers to swell publications lists.

Many of the purported authors never write the papers they sign.

China ranks second behind the United States by number of academic papers published every year.

In a country desperate to catch up with the developed world in science and technology, academic hacking has cast a shadow over its long-term innovative potential, according to BBC China analyst Shirong Chen.

Wake-up call

The market in buying and selling scientific papers has grown five-fold in the past three years.

Some hard-up masters or doctorate students are making a living by churning out papers for others. Others mass-produce scientific papers in order to get monetary rewards from their institutions.

Two lecturers from central China were sacked late last month after it was discovered that they had falsified 70 papers in two years.

Critics say part of the problem lies in the official requirement on academic publication for degrees and job promotions.

But the root cause lies in the erosion of an academic code of conduct, our correspondent says.

As the country is still debating why no scholars from mainland China have won the Nobel Prize, the latest study serves as a wake-up call for the country to clean up its act, he adds.

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