China Considers Tougher Measures for Academic Misconduct, Including AI Papers


  • China mulls tough consequences, such as stripping degrees, for academic rule-breakers, including those who use AI for essays, in a new Degree Law under NPC scrutiny.
  • The suggested law tackles various academic wrongdoings, seeks uniform rules for all regions, and deals with the increasing role of AI in academics.
  • Recent instances of cheating and misbehavior in well-known Chinese universities have prompted the push for stricter actions, including legal accountability for academic dishonesty.

China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) is currently examining a draft Degree Law designed to address academic misconduct, specifically concerning using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to ghostwrite essays and theses. This proposed legislation represents a significant step in tackling concerns related to plagiarism and fraudulent academic practices within the country. 

The draft law, presented to the NPC Standing Committee, suggests that degrees could be revoked for various infractions associated with academic misconduct and cheating, regardless of when the degrees were initially awarded.

The draft Degree Law aims to establish “robust legal assurances” for degree conferment in China while standardizing regulations governing academic misconduct across different regions. The proposed law outlines a comprehensive strategy for addressing various forms of academic wrongdoing, including using AI tools for ghostwriting. Under this legislation, current students and individuals who have previously obtained bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees may face repercussions if they are found to have employed ‘unlawful methods’ to manipulate data or submit ghostwritten essays.

One of the most notable provisions in the draft law is the authority to revoke degrees for those found guilty of academic misconduct. The responsibility for degree revocation would lie with the institution that granted the degree, following a meticulous review by the Degree Evaluation Committee. This measure underscores China’s commitment to combatting academic misconduct and plagiarism.

AI tools under scrutiny

While the prior draft of the Degree Law, released in 2021, did not explicitly address AI’s role in academic misconduct, the proliferation of AI writing tools has prompted its inclusion. AI tools like ChatGPT, introduced by OpenAI in November 2022, have introduced a new dimension to the academic landscape. These tools can serve as valuable aids in legitimate research but also pose challenges regarding potential misuse for ghostwriting.

Within China’s academic community, opinions diverge regarding using AI tools for academic writing. Some argue that applications like ChatGPT can significantly enhance scientific research efficiency, especially in data analysis. However, the crux lies in defining the boundary between ethical AI assistance and AI-generated content that crosses into ghostwriting.

Strengthened regulations in a changing landscape

This draft law adopts a forward-looking approach, acknowledging the evolving technological landscape where AI-assisted writing tools could become more commonplace. Nevertheless, it acknowledges the current limitations in effectively identifying AI-assisted writing or ghostwriting cases. The introduction of stringent penalties, such as degree revocation, underscores the need for universities to establish robust review procedures to prevent potential miscarriages of justice.

In addition to legal measures, experts emphasize the importance of providing students and researchers with robust training in academic integrity. The draft law places particular emphasis on the role of graduate advisors, who are expected to promote integrity and guide students in conducting research and practical work in alignment with academic norms and ethical standards.

This proposed law builds upon earlier regulations introduced in 2013 to combat academic misconduct, including plagiarism, falsification, and research paper fraud. However, these earlier measures have not entirely eradicated problems, as evidenced by recent ghostwriting, plagiarism, and data falsification cases in esteemed Chinese universities.

Recent cases spotlight the issue

Numerous high-profile cases have highlighted academic misconduct in China. Last year, a report from the National Natural Science Foundation exposed issues in research papers from prestigious universities, including ghostwriting and plagiarism. The Ministry of Science and Technology also disclosed penalties against numerous medical researchers for academic fraud, including plagiarism and the trading of research data.

Occasionally, instances of degree revocation due to academic misconduct have been publicized in official Chinese media. One such instance involved the revocation of a master’s law degree that had been conferred a decade earlier owing to plagiarism and academic misconduct.

The draft Degree Law also allows for degrees to be revoked in cases involving stolen or forged identities, substituting admissions qualifications obtained by others, or using bribes. Furthermore, degrees may be revoked when admission qualifications or graduation certificates are obtained through unlawful means, such as favoritism and fraud.

Criminal accountability

In cases of identity theft, admissions fraud, or other criminal activities related to academic qualifications, the draft law stipulates that offenders will face criminal responsibility in accordance with the law. This provision adds a deterrent against fraudulent academic practices.

China’s proposed draft Degree Law reflects the nation’s commitment to upholding academic integrity and combatting misconduct. The legislation’s incorporation of AI-generated content underscores the necessity to adapt to evolving technological landscapes while maintaining academic standards. 

As this law undergoes examination by the National People’s Congress, its potential impact on academic practices in China and its potential as a model for addressing academic misconduct worldwide remains to be seen.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Brenda Kanana

Brenda Kanana is an accomplished and passionate writer specializing in the fascinating world of cryptocurrencies, Blockchain, NFT, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). With a profound understanding of blockchain technology and its implications, she is dedicated to demystifying complex concepts and delivering valuable insights to readers.

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