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January 22, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

PhD holder sells theses to pay loan

A PHD holder opened an online store to sell theses to earn extra money to pay his mortgage, creating controversy for helping students get degrees they didn't earn.

The 30-year-old full-time company employee said he is using his academic gift to write essays for others in his spare time.

He earned 10,000 yuan (US$1,518) to 20,000 yuan for each Science Citation Index paper and records show that he had sold 10 SCI papers since opening the store back in 2009.

He claimed he did some research before opening the store and found it did not violate any law.

"It's legal if the author agrees to give the copyright to the client," said Liu Chunquan, a lawyer with the Panocean law firm.

The PhD holder said: "I did it for money, thanks to the real estate developer. I'm a slave to the home mortgage and I'm forced to do it."

After selling all eight essays related to his research for his PhD degree, he started offering his services to others.

Many people criticized him on his store's feedback page for aiding academic corruption although a few expressed understanding.

One person wrote: "It's a pity that your talents are misused."

In response, legal and education experts called on schools and institutions to reform evaluation methods of students and teachers to stop the blind pursuit of publishing papers.

Liu said many people hire ghost writers to write school essays for them due to the rigid professional appraisal system in China.

Many universities evaluate faculty members on how many papers they publish in a year. Some postgraduates also need to get their thesis published to get their degrees.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute and a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said: "To stop such immoral transactions, we need to reform the evaluation system."

The evaluation system used by universities and research institutions has long been criticized as the root cause for academic cheating.

Postgraduate students have to publish at least one paper in a key academic journal to get their diploma while thesis publication is also a must for researchers and professors to gain awards or promotions.

"Even kindergarten teachers need to get a paper published to be promoted," said Xiong.

The number of papers published has become the major, and in some cases the only, way of evaluating a scholar, Xiong added.

Many university rankings list the number of publications as a major index to appraise schools. Thus, schools push researchers to publish several papers annually. Researchers who fail to get their papers published will find little promotion opportunities.

This has led to an increase in plagiarism scandals, experts said.


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