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Quantity not the only index for funding: ministry

TAIPEI -- The quantity of academic papers is not the only assessment factor used to award promotion or research funds to academics, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Lin Yi-bing said Sunday, commenting on a case of alleged academic fraud involving a local professor.

The case revolves around Peter Chen, a former associate professor of computer science at National Pingtung University of Education in southern Taiwan, who has been accused of academic fraud after 60 of his articles were retracted by the Journal of Vibration and Control.

The Journal of Vibration and Control, a leading international publication in the field of acoustics, accused Chen of creating fraudulent online accounts representing 130 academics to give favorable reviews of his papers and help get them published, according to foreign media reports.

The case has highlighted the issue of quantity over quality of science publications in order to earn credits for faculty promotion. Lin, however, said the academic sector in recent years has been placing more emphasis on scholars' academic achievements and the impact of their papers rather than on their volume of writing.

He said the quantity of academic papers is “a terrible index” and that too many published articles could hamper applicants' chances of obtaining funding from the Ministry of Science and Technology for research. Regarding promotions, Lin said it is the Ministry of Education that makes such decisions.

The Ministry of Science has found that it may have funded the research for 40 of Peter Chen's questionable papers, to the tune of some NT$5.08 million (US$169,164), according to Lin.

He said that if Chen is found to have violated academic ethics, the science ministry will demand a return of any research funds awarded to him and will bar him for life from applying for such funding.

Meanwhile, Wu Maw-kuen, president of National Dong Hwa University and a former minister of the National Science Council, has raised questions about the sheer number of papers Chen submitted to the Journal of Vibration and Control for publication.

Considering the time it takes to write a paper and obtain peer review, it is puzzling that Chen could have written and published as many as 60 articles in the journal, Wu said.

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