Is China stealing your research?

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Academic theft

Lately I have been receiving these curious e-mails from alleged Chinese institutions, inviting me to all sorts of interesting academic events to be held in China next year. I started to get suspicious about them when the sender used names strikingly similar to some of my Hotmail or Facebook contacts:

From : xcy <xcy@silivalley.net>
Date: 2016/7/6   12:07
To: cguarde@live.cn
Subject: TPC Invitation from Conference SSPHE

 Invitation

The committee of 2017 International Conference on Social Science, Public Health and Education (SSPHE2017) sincerely invite you to join the Technical Program Committee (TPC) of our conference.

If you are willing to join us, please send your personal resume to us, we will put it on the official website. And we’ll be very glad if you can transmit our conference information to others in your school.

Sincerely looking forward to your reply. Thank you!

SSPHE2017

ssphe@a-scie.org

http://www.ssphe.org

So I did some research and found out that none of these events is actually real. They are all fake, as you may have guessed from an address called “silivalley.net” (you can check and see what’s in there). The website where you can find all kinds of information in crappy “Engrish”, www.ssphe.org, invites you to submit papers from almost all possible academic fields.

So, what would happen to your unpublished papers when you submit them to these fake events?

They will probably be sold to students who do not want to invest in R&D or are too busy reading Marx and Mao to do some real writing. They will translate them into Chinese and publish them in some local journal to finish their grades or boast about how many amazing publications they have. In the worst case scenario, they will submit it to a foreign journal to be reviewed by a committee of carefully selected Chinese referees, so it gets easily accepted despite any shortcomings.

An unlikely scenario? Let´s see. According to Nature “more than 120 gibberish papers” from conferences automatically generated by a computer were removed from their database in 2014. And guess what: “Most of the conferences took place in China”. And soon after, a “peer-review scam” happened again. In 2015 BioMed Central also retracted 43 papers because of their “fabricated peer reviews”, although they claim this is not a China problem (but hey, be a racist fascist and try to guess the nationality of the retracted authors). And some months later another scandal broke in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, with 64 papers, “Nearly all […] authored by Chinese academics”, being retracted.

Not convinced yet?

On January 5 the academic journal Plos One published a paper about the anatomy of the human hand. The paper passed review and then attracted a lot of attention because, according to its author, “hand coordination should indicate the mystery of the Creator’s invention” –or, in other words, if you can use a fork and a knife it means God created your hand.

The author of the paper, Ming-Jin Liu, basically accused the whole academic community of racist claiming that he had been misunderstood: “Our understanding of the word Creator was not actually as a native English speaker expected”. Well, that may delude some leftards with zero knowledge of Chinese language, but there is no special connotation in the Chinese word for Creator. It has the same creationist meaning, both in English and Chinese.

In order to make the inferior white men more comfortable with the superior Chinese knowledge, Liu said that “We will change the Creator to nature in the revised manuscript”. So basically it will read what? “hand coordination should indicate the mystery of the nature’s invention”? Wow! From creationism to pantheism. Problem solved.

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