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July 28, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Universities argue over grant

A LOCAL university is accusing another university in Shandong Province of copying its idea for a research program to win a 6.4 million yuan (US$944,000) national grant.

Shanghai's East China Normal University has complained to the National Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science, which issued the grant, and applied for a thorough investigation.

The office said the case will be investigated once detailed information has been received.

If the Shandong school is found guilty of copying ECNU's idea, the grant will be canceled.

"It's theft," said Fang Yong, leader of the ECNU team and a professor at the school's Chinese literature department.

"We've made painstaking efforts to set up this research program."

ECNU started preparing materials about seven years ago to research various schools of Chinese classic thoughts since c. 21st century BC.

The university held a large seminar in March to gather the advice of domestic scholars in order to make final revisions for the project. The university planned to publish 1,000 books after doing an in-depth study of 5,000 classic works.

However, ECNU was surprised to learn earlier this month that Shandong University, which had participated in the seminar, got a national research grant for a very similar program.

ECNU had yet to apply for a research grant. Usually, only one grant will be awarded for the study of any subject.

Zheng Jiewen, leader of the Shandong University team and a professor at the school, proposed some suggestions in the seminar in March, but didn't say that the school was carrying out similar research.

ECNU accused its counterpart of not respecting academic codes.

In response, the Shandong University program team claimed without elaborating that they adopted different research methods.

"They didn't adopt my suggestions, so why can't I do it myself," Zheng said.

"Every one has the right to research Chinese classics. Our university has been studying classic thoughts since last century."

He declined to tell Shanghai Daily if the school applied for the grant before or after attending the seminar.

"Don't turn the academic world into an entertainment circle," Zheng said.

But the scandal has aroused great attention in academic circles and Xiao Hanming, a Wuhan University professor, compared it to "a swift robbery by a motorcycle thief" in his blog.

Xiao also gave a presentation at the seminar.


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