The China Radio International English service has reported the curious case of a recent PhD graduate who has launched an online business to sell academic papers, charging between 10 to 20 thousand yuan for each paper. The doctoral graduate claims that every paper that he sells is original and based on his own research and experiments. While the morality of such a business may be questioned there is no illegality involved.

In his blog entitled 'SCI Papers for Sale', the unnamed person even testifies to the good quality of his products and says that eight of his papers sold the previous year were accepted for publication in the Science Citation Index (SCI), entry to which has been long considered an adequate reflection of the academic competence of universities, research institutes and scholars.

The CRI report also refers to research by Shen Yang, a professor with Wuhan University, which finds that the academic appraisal system, especially at the doctoral level, is largely driven by the culture of paper publication and the quantity of dissertations that a student publishes - every year, 12 million people in China reportedly deal with the pressure of having to publish a paper. This has led to a business in academic papers, which though ethically denounced has found many takers and is, in fact, thriving. There are services specializing in helping people to write dissertations and now, ready research papers are being openly offered for sale, as the above instance shows.

Academic plagiarism is rampant in China, and as one report in the People's Daily Online cites, a certain college survey on students' online behavior found 57 percent of respondents admitting to having copied research at least once. In order to mitigate this growing malpractice, several professors, including Professor Yang, have developed software tools to check for originality of submitted graduation or doctoral theses by students. Ironically, many of these - available online, either free or for a cost - are now being used by students to defeat the very purpose.  Students download or purchase these services to have their papers checked and once the papers are returned to them with the plagiarized parts highlighted, they revise only those to get the paper to meet qualification/pass requirements.