Taiwan education minister resigns over alleged academic fraud

Taiwan Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling resigned on Monday after being embroiled in a "peer review ring" uncovered by a major international academic and professional publisher, in which the peer review process was rigged to get articles published one of its scientific journals.

Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun told reporters that Premier Jiang Yi-huah approved Chiang's resignation Monday morning. He said Vice Minister of Education Chen Te-hua will serve as the acting minister until Chiang's replacement is secured.

On July 8, SAGE Publications announced that the Journal of Vibration and Control had retracted 60 articles following the discovery of the ring led by Peter Chen, formerly a computer science professor of Taiwan's National Pingtung University of Education.

It said it discovered during a 14-month investigation that the ring used up to 130 aliases and fake e-mail addresses to give favorable reviews to Chen's work and that of his friends before publication.

SAGE then confronted Chen and gave him "an opportunity to address the accusations of misconduct" but was not satisfied with Chen's responses.

In May, Chen's university informed SAGE and the journal that Chen "had resigned from his post on Feb. 2, the publisher said.

Each of the 60 retracted articles had at least one author and/or one reviewer implicated in the peer review ring, it said. Among them was Chiang.

Chiang originally denied any private and professional association with Chen and insisted that his name was used without his knowledge or consent.

However, after local newspapers reported that Chiang and Chen's twin brother -- one of Chiang's students -- were listed as a coauthor in at least 17 of Chen's papers, Chiang finally admitted that he had met Chen twice but knew very little of him.

The Presidential Office said Monday that President Ma Ying-jeou "fully understands" and "respects" Chiang's decision to resign.

In addition to a government inquiry ordered by the premier, the Pingtung District Prosecutors Office has launched an investigation into the matter.