Is it wrong to buy publications from grad students and pass them off as your own?

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Apparently it is in China – if you get caught.

Chinese academia ghost-writing ‘widespread’

This BBC article claims that “More than $100m (£63m) changes hands in China every year for ghost-written academic papers, according to research by a Chinese university.”

As I see it, the only thing that really distinguishes this crime from the all too common practice of claiming authorship for everything one’s own grad students do is that the grad students weren’t yours.

There are plenty of academics who routinely add their names to everything their grad students publish. I personally know a science department where a good number of the faculty get most of their publications without ever having to write a word. Yet THAT practice rarely gets questioned. WHY? They didn’t do the work. They merely paid to support the grad student. If I follow that same logic, does that mean any publication I get while being paid by the university must bear the name of the person who approves my paycheque?

I realize there is huge pressure to publish, but the truth is, if people stopped bowing to that pressure and actually claimed credit ONLY for the work they actually did, then the problem would sort itself out as most of the so-called “high fliers” do very little of their own work or writing.

Academia needs to get back to real, honest work. Honestly is supposed to be our most cherished value. Most academics these days are as corrupt as the students they claim to despise – you know those who cheat their way through school.

If Academics actually practiced what they preached, we’d be far better off.

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