Chinese students admit to little or no idea about ethics

Chinese students and researchers have "little or no idea" about academic ethics and misconduct, a study suggests.

August 5, 2010

Research carried out by academics at Beihang University in Beijing found a startling lack of understanding of plagiarism and academic misconduct, with both students and staff admitting that they knew "very little" or "had no idea" about the norms of scientific ethics.

Fewer than half of the 32 Chinese universities questioned by researchers had detailed definitions of plagiarism and misconduct drawn up, and more than 40 per cent of students said current guidelines at their own institutions were insufficient.

As a result, up to 10 per cent of the students surveyed said that they thought copying work directly from the internet should not be considered bad practice.

"Chinese students often start their academic writing via imitation of existing works and their knowledge about academic writing and good academic conduct is often insufficient, partly due to the lack of academic or professional writing courses at Chinese universities," says a paper detailing the research, "Preventing plagiarism and academic misconduct: A case study of Chinese universities".

The study was co-authored by three researchers, Zhang Xiaojun, Sun Hongli and Zhang Fan, working in the School of Foreign Languages at Beihang.

The group said the Chinese academy had been criticised for its emphasis on quantity over quality of published papers, with both master's and doctoral candidates expected to publish.

A shortage of academic motivation was also a factor, with half of PhD graduates becoming government officials rather than entering the academy.

The researchers found that academics cited an "unreasonable academic appraisal system", an "undesirable overall social environment" and a "defective supervision mechanism" as the root of misconduct.

The study, which was presented at the Fourth International Plagiarism Conference at Northumbria University this summer, recommends better teaching of the rules governing plagiarism to "raise the awareness of the students or academic staff over research ethics and good academic conduct".

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most commented

Like the rest of society, universities have largely failed to consider the specific needs of menopausal women. Here, one scholar describes how this can lead to marginalisation and bullying – and why the issue is as important as the fight for maternity rights

16 January

Sponsored

Featured jobs

Director of Learning & Teaching

Falmouth University

Senior Research Fellow/Lecturer

Scotland's Rural College (sruc)

Research Fellow, Department of Computer Science

Royal Holloway, University Of London