SINGAPORE: A plagiarism accusation has been raised against a Tianjin-born associate professor from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) regarding a published academic paper that allegedly plagiarized a student’s graduation thesis.
NTU has confirmed that they are conducting an investigation into the matter.
On Tuesday (25 Jul), a user on the online forum Reddit pointed out similarities between a paper published in 2018 by Associate Professor Qu Jingyi (曲景毅), the Head of NTU’s Chinese Department, and a paper written by NTU student Wang Yueming (王岳明) in 2014.
Assoc Prof Qu’s academic paper, titled “Escape as A Mode of Existence: Ruan Ji’s Escapism Complex,” was published in English in 2018, while Wang’s student paper was written in Chinese.
The user claimed that both are very similar and almost identical in many parts.
“Come to think of it, even though this prof is the thesis supervisor of this student, the prof doesn’t have ownership of this research right? shouldn’t the prof at least co-author with this student in the English essay?”
The student believes that this constitutes a clear act of plagiarism, with the professor allegedly taking credit for the student’s work.
Wang’s final year project in 2014
Wang’s paper, titled “Escapism in the Literary Works of Ruan Ji” (论阮籍诗文中的逃避主义), was his final year project, and Associate Professor Qu served as his supervisor.
Meanwhile, Assoc Prof Qu’s paper, which was previously posted on the online repository Academia, has been taken down.
However, it is still accessible for viewing on another website, available here.
According to The Straits Times, their investigation revealed that more than 50% of Professor Qu’s paper appears to be a direct translation of Mr. Wang’s 2014 paper, without giving proper attribution to the latter. These sections include analyses of poems and inferences drawn from related research papers.
In the second half of Professor Qu’s paper, especially during the analysis of four poems by Ruan Ji who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty, he seems to present Mr. Wang’s observations as his own, without acknowledgment.
For instance, in his analysis of a poem, Professor Qu wrote:
“Is it Yang Zhu crying at the forked road or Ruan Ji feeling sad at his own road (fate)? The answer is obvious. The two lines seen in the poem later, “Facing upwards, soaring birds in flight can be seen/ Looking downwards fishes are seen swimming merrily” depicts the imagery of “the freedom flying birds and swimming fishes enjoy”, is actually representative of Ruan Ji’s desire for freedom.”
Here is the translation of Mr. Wang’s analysis in Mandarin of the same poem:
“Is it Yang Zhu who cried for the road, or Ruan Ji who felt sorrow because of the road? The answer is very obvious. Later in the poem, there are two lines that describe the imagery of ‘looking up at flying birds, looking down at swimming fish,’ expressing the carefree nature of flying birds and swimming fish. In fact, it reveals Ruan Ji’s yearning for freedom.”
In another section of his paper, Assoc Prof Qu makes similar suggestions to those of Mr. Wang regarding the topic of escapism. He wrote:
“Hence, this paper suggests that contrary to the popular convention of labelling Escapism as a term with derogatory connotations, Escapism can be viewed as a neutral term as well. Since Escapism is an effective means of self-protection, understanding Escapism may lead us to better, positive understanding of Man’s tendencies when faced with dire circumstances.”
The same passage in Mandarin was found in Mr. Wang’s paper:
Therefore, the author believes that escapism, contrary to the commonly held notion of being derogatory, can also be considered a neutral term. Understanding escapism may bring us a positive understanding of human tendencies when faced with difficult situations because “Escapism is an effective means of self-protection.”
Associate Professor Qu Originally from Tianjin, China
Born in Tianjin in 1979, Assoc Prof Qu Graduated from the Chinese Department of Anhui University in July 2006.
According to information available on NTU’s website, Assoc Prof Qu joined the university in 2010 and currently holds the positions of Head of Chinese and Deputy Director of the Centre for Chinese Language and Culture at NTU’s School of Humanities.
He has an impressive publication record with over 100 works published in both Chinese and English, including 49 journal articles and four books.
Assoc Prof Qu earned his doctorate degree from two prestigious institutions: Peking University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Throughout his academic career, he has been recognized for his achievements with scholarships and awards, such as the Fulbright Scholarship and NTU’s Nanyang Education Award.
NTU investigating the matter
According to Lianhe Zaobao, a spokesperson from NTU has responded to the issue, emphasizing that the university is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and professional conduct.
They stated that accusations of academic misconduct are taken very seriously.
“The School of Humanities is investigating the allegations, and it would be inappropriate to comment further while the investigation is ongoing.”