Fast-growing scientific ghostwriter factory in China

Science publishers are awakened to the fact that academic papers are being written and traded on a large scale in China. Official media recently revealed how illegal paper mills operate to publish fake manuscripts.

In China, promotion in a particular profession or discipline requires hardcore indicators for publishing academic papers. However, for many, this indicator is almost out of reach. In this way, the gray industry of scientific ghostwriters that provide a “one-stop service” where submissions and publications are done in the name of the client has evolved.

You can easily find many essay factories by entering keywords in a Chinese search engine.

Xinhua News Agency’s official media column, Xinhua News Agency, is said to be able to contact various paper mills under the guise of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular doctors to write and publish papers of all levels, as long as delivery times are not too short. I did. according to Xinhua News Agency on January 11th.

The customer service agent described the process of “creating” an essay for a national periodical. The factory will first send a provisional journal for client verification and then list a fee of 1,600 yuan ($ 250) to write and publish an essay in the latest issue of that journal. If both parties agree, the client will pay a deposit of RMB 600 ($ 95) to publish the manuscript and will make the final payment after receiving the essay acceptance notice. The company will later send the final electronic version, followed by an email with sample issues.

The reporter paid a deposit and received a message on three writing approaches upon request. After choosing one approach, the paper mill sent him an essay within two days, stating that it was written by professional staff and could be modified as needed.

When asked how to publish an essay in the international journal of the Scientific Citation Index (SCI), an internationally recognized search system for science and technology literature, a customer service agent at a factory said that the client was named, profession, and appropriate. Research directions for “matching” journals and another journal that directly selected the SCI Zone 3 journal. SCI has four zones, with Zone 1 having the highest academic value. If the client pays a deposit of half the cost, the company will immediately arrange a ghostwriter and send the manuscript to the client first when completed. He pays the rest when he is happy with the final revision. Articles can also be arranged.

At another paper mill, after a reporter expressed an urgent need to publish in an international top medical journal, the agent recommended a basically complete English essay on orthopedic neck research, at 37,500 yuan. Some of it was provided for review at an expense ($ 5,900) both for writing and for publication.

“The manuscript will be written by a teacher on our team of experts to accept previous invitations from top journal editors and will be confirmed for publication within a month at the earliest,” said a customer service agent. Told.

Liu Qingyu (pseudonym) worked for a ghostwriter company and became almost a formal writer. From the perspective of Xinhua News Agency, the people involved in the “production” of medical dissertations have a certain ability to guarantee the quality of writing, have a background in systematic medical education, are doctors of medicine, and are biotechnology companies. He said he had worked. However, some of them are not fully aware that they are in the dissertation ghostwriter factory before they join.

In some cases, buying and selling survey results is more profitable than doing the survey itself.

Liu also said that the essays produced at this kind of factory aren’t really very good, and the factory worked hard to figure out the preferences of the major journals before writing the article “applying the formula”. On a mass scale, he said he would choose the easiest field of study to do.

According to a reporter’s survey, paper mills regularly post a large number of manuscripts, which has led to close relationships with some journals and became a co-reviewer of some journals as a paper “producer.” There is. Some paper mills pay journal editors directly so that they can publish without disturbing their writing.

Shen Yang, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the sale of papers and the surge in fake journals created an illegal industry in China in 2010. A research team at Wuhan University has found a production value of 1 billion yuan. ($ 160 million) In 2009, a conservative estimate according to the state-owned Janze River Daily.

Chinese counterfeit papers published in international journals

Independent writer Zhuge Mingyang told The Epoch Times: This kind of unethical practice has long been a common phenomenon in China under the ruling Communist Party. “

Epoch Times Photo
Taken in Paris on March 17, 2010, this photo shows the Internet homepage of the American scientific journal Nature. (Loic Venance / AFP via Getty Images)

according to By March 2021, the total number of likely papers from paper mills in major journals exceeded 1,300, according to statistics from Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious academic journals. I did. At least 370 papers withdrawn after January 2020 were linked to the paper mill. ..

These results undoubtedly had a major impact on China’s academic reputation.

Since the beginning of 2018, Jana Christopher and colleagues at the Biochemical Center at the University of Heidelberg in Germany have expressed concern about “disturbing” fraud. After the investigation, the Federation of European Biochemical Societies Letter (FEBS Letter), edited by Christopher, was published. June 27, 2021, eight features of fraudulent dissertation.

Such manuscripts have the same text or organizational structure as other papers. There are similarities in the composition of figures, annotation styles, graphics, and tables in other papers. They have a standard title structure. Many manuscripts by different authors were from the same computer. The author uses a commercial email address instead of an academic email address, and the author’s researcher identification number is missing or blank. The bibliography list contains articles that are not clearly related. Using the author-recommended reviewers results in unusually short review times and positive results.

Elizabeth Bick, a former expert at Stanford University, said in February 2020 that more than 400 articles from various authors and institutions seem to come from the same “paper mill”, and these articles are famous. Tweeted that it was written by the people in the hospital. Mainly in China.

Sean Lin


Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. Since 2009, he has contributed to The Epoch Times, focusing on topics related to China.