On Friday we reported on the case of a group of researchers in China who have retracted at least 11 papers for various kinds of misconduct. Here’s a bit more on that story, courtesy of our commenters.
First, it turns out that the retraction total is at least 12. But more significant is that the institution in question, Tsinghua University’s Graduate School at Shenzhen, announced yesterday that it had stripped one of the researchers involved in the studies of his PhD and sanctioned another in the matter.
According to a statement issued October 21 after “information on the retraction of many papers by the 2010 PhD student Ye Xiaoxin as the first author appeared on the Internet,” the school launched an investigation into the work of Ye Xiaoxin in January 2017. That was after Tang Guoxuan, head of the materials department and the deputy director of the New Materials Research Institute, received reports of potential problems in his published studies. (Those early reports surfaced in March 2016, Tsinghua said.)
Tang reportedly found evidence of widespread misconduct — including not only reuse and manipulation of images but fabrication of data and “other issues” — in 16 articles and Ye’s dissertation. Ye had begun graduate school at Tsinghua in 2010, and earned a PhD in 2015.
In April 2017, a university committee stripped Ye of his degree. As for Tang, who had the responsibility to oversee his subordinates, the university — here courtesy of Google Translate — said he was removed as head of the materials department and deputy director of the New Materials Research Institute. Tang, they said, is now going to retire.
Tsinghua, which has what is calls a “zero-tolerance attitude toward research misconduct,” says it considers the case an object lesson in its approach to such problems:
In September 2017, our hospital used this as a typical warning case. Starting from postgraduate entrance education, we strengthened the education link of cultivating good academic style and correcting academic behavior, and organized special learning and education activities for all postgraduate tutors, and targeted new instructors. We will conscientiously perform the duties of the instructors, strengthen the training on the daily education management of graduate students, and further clarify the relevant work requirements.
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