I'm posting from an anonymous account, for reasons that will be obvious.
I'm an associate professor in China at one of the top 10 universities in China, and have been working in China for a number of years. Most research in our lab is respectable and unproblematic. We get some papers in top journals and conferences.
As a native English speaker, I help on papers from graduate students. Some of these papers are conference papers, and some are journal papers. The conference papers I work on are international.
However, probably between 30% to 50% of the Chinese graduate students I work with copy and paste from the Internet into their research papers (from Wikipedia, from other papers, from software documentation, and so on). The amount ranges from a sentence here and there, to whole sections. It's usually easy for me to notice copy/pasted material (it's where they suddenly write like a native English speaker with 10+ years of research experience). Yesterday, I encountered the worst instance of copy/paste I've ever seen, and I flatly refused to be listed as a co-author.
What's become clear:
- The students generally think it's acceptable to copy/paste; they're unconcerned even if it's published.
- Part of the motivation behind copy/pasting is that English is their second language.
- The Chinese professors (i.e., their supervisors) mostly do not read their students' papers; they might take a quick check before submission.
- The Chinese professors push the students into rushing to meet conference submission deadlines, and I feel this has a negative impact on both their research and paper-writing quality.
- The university doesn't outright condone plagiarism, but they don't seem to think of it as a negative. I get the impression that it's considered efficient use of time. The focus is on getting it published, while significance, errors, and plagiarism are less important.
- Many of the students do not intend to have careers in academia. The paper will not have much significance, but it's either required for their degree, or their supervisor is pushing them into writing it. They don't care much.
I've explained how serious a matter this is, over and over. And honestly, I'm fed up repeating myself – it makes me feel like the university (and research in China) is a joke. It makes me feel ashamed to work here.
I've tried repeatedly explaining this to everyone, but the seriousness is not getting through. They just think I'm overreacting.
Q: How can I convince graduate students in China to not copy/paste from the Internet into their research papers?
I'm looking for an answer along the lines of "the negative consequences of copy/pasting from the Internet in publications are blah". I have no intention to pack up and leave; I just want to get the message across and convince them that plagiarism matters. So I'm thinking about writing a document entitled e.g. "why we shouldn't plagiarize" and sending it around.