Chiang Wei-ling eyed over connection with discredited academic papers

DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen lashed out at Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling on Sunday, saying that as an educator he should be succinctly aware of how to behave as an academic. Chiang has been scrambling for several days to explain his role in matter of Chen Chen-yuan, also known as Peter Chen, an associate professor of Computer Science at Pingtung University in southern Taiwan, who had 60 academic papers revoked by the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) in London. Minister Chiang has been identified as a co-author of five of the 60 papers that were revoked and has also been accused of falsely identifying himself as a professor of civil engineering at Central University.

Tsai noted that it is extremely disappointing that the head of the Ministry of Education should be accused of such behavior and called on Premier Jiang Yi-huah to order the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to launch a thorough investigation into the charges as quickly as possible.

Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said Sunday that Premier Jiang found the news of the revocation of the papers very "saddening." Sun said the premier has already instructed Chiang to make a clear and complete explanation of the details of Chen’s submission and the reasons behind the papers’ rejection.

Tsai commented on the Chen Chen-yuan controversy Sunday morning in Tainan, where she was attending the installation of new members in the Executive Review Committee at the local DPP party headquarters. Speaking on the JVC case, Tsai noted that the charges are a very serious matter, especially as the incident has been widely discussed in the international community. She said the case has already done tremendous harm to the academic reputation of Taiwan and demanded that Minister Chiang carry out a careful self-examination to assay his own part in the scandal.

Lee Yuan-tseh, a Nobel laureate and former head of Academia Sinica, said Saturday that the JVC incident “is disgraceful, a very terrible thing… Taiwan’s academic community must take stock of this, and the old way of ‘quantity over quality’ must change. In competing for funding and promotion, many Taiwanese professors aim for a high number of published papers,” he said.

DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling echoed Lee’s statement, saying that equating the number of times a paper is cited to its level of academic merit has caused many problems in Taiwan’s academic circles.

Tsai Ing-wen said this trend has generated a lot of bad results across the entire academic spectrum of grading, evaluating and promoting personnel and teachers. "I believe this is a wake-up call for all of us,” she said, “and now the system must be completely reviewed."

Chiang has made several statements about the JVC case, saying that he did not know Chen Chen-yuan but had taught his twin brother Chen Chen-wu about ten years ago. His remarks stand in contrast to unidentified sources who say he and Chen Chen-yuan have collaborated on at least seven projects over the past ten years, including one paper that was revoked by JVC.

Chiang has denied any wrongdoing in the incident, insisting that “the five papers are not fraudulent, they are solid works of research done by my doctorate and master’s students.”

He said some problems may have occurred during the review and publication process of the papers. “I was only responsible for supervising the papers,” he said, adding that the individuals responsible for the alleged fraud should clarify the situation.

Chiang said he will ask the publishers of JVC why the papers were revoked, adding, “We shall defend our rights as necessary.”

Chen Chen-yuan has already resigned from his position at Pingtung University, and the scandal could claim more victims before it is fully exposed.