Uni 'plagiarism-for-profit' probe launched

Uni 'plagiarism-for-profit' probe launched

Academics accused of fraudulent papers

A probe is underway following allegations that a group of university lecturers bought academic papers and used them to secure reimbursals from the government for profit, according to the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI).

Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Anek Laothamatas said yesterday he was aware of the news reports that the academics had renamed paid-for reports as their own and had them published in internationally accredited journals, said Mr Anek.

The ministry will be closely monitoring progress in the probe as the malpractice amounts to a gross ethical violation in academia, he added.

Sirirerk Songsiwilai, the MHESI permanent secretary, confirmed the ministry had sent a team to look into the issue.

Anyone found hiring others to do research for them or buying research papers for use in upgrading their academic credentials or deceiving others is liable for a maximum jail term of three years, a fine of up to 60,000 baht or both under the Tertiary Education Act.

The academic works are also subject to strict standardisation scrutiny, the permanent secretary added.

Heads of universities nationwide, both privately and state-run, have been told to run thorough checks on the academic papers and backgrounds of the staff who wrote them, Dr Sirirerk said.

Weerachai Phutdhawong, an associate professor in chemistry at Kasetsart University, alleged on Facebook that a lecturer at Chiang Mai University published an academic paper on the subject of nanomaterials, which was allegedly bought, and paid 30,000 baht in publishing costs.

The academic later claimed reimbursement from the state-run university at four times the cost.

Mr Weerachai demanded an immediate investigation against the academic, who he said was unqualified to conduct a study on nanomaterials.

Pinkaew Lueng-aramsri, a humanities professor at Chiang Mai University, said the nano researcher also authored a number of other works in fields outside his areas of expertise, including farming and cryptocurrency.

Mr Pinkaew added he found it odd that the researcher had carried out studies in so many countries within a limited span of time and none had ever been published in the Thai language.

Branding the academic "shameless", he said the researcher had made a lot of money from the malpractice.

Anan Jongkaewwattana, a virologist at the National Science and Technology Development Agency, said research paper "shopping" had allowed academics to pass themselves off as authors or co-authors of research projects.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai University said on Facebook that it has begun a disciplinary probe into the malpractice.

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