Discover more from Karlstack
A Bluff Gets Called at Edinburgh Business School
After I wrote this article about Margaret Zhu, not only was she fired, but the entire nation of Singapore cracked down on credential fraud, lol.
Say what you will about fascism, but they are an efficient people who do not tolerate corruption. Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Singapore in 4th place out of 180 countries.
If you’ll recall, the problem was that Zhu listed 2 articles on her CV, in 2 of the best journals in the world, and those 2 articles simply did not exist.
She lied about their existence to puff up her thin CV, in order to obtain tenure.
Today we have a similiar case — which was first pointed out in the #1 most viewed EJMR thread of last week, Publications that do not exist.
Several people in that thread call for Karlstack to investigate.
As always, whenever I am handed a story like this on a silver platter, I feel sheepish because I didn’t do any actual legwork. But as always… whatever. Fraud is fraud, and the reason Karlstack exists is to uncover fraud. Mainstream outlets don’t have an incentive to cover this stuff, nor have mainstream outlets put in the work to build relationships with EJMR. I have, so I feel entitled to reap the fruits of that relationship.
Karlstack is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The case involves Dr. Tong Wang, a Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh Business School. He obtained his econ PhD in 2011 from the Toulouse School of Economics.
I am not 100% sure that he is a Chinese citizen, but it is a safe bet, given that as per his CV he did his undergad + masters there, and more recently has received grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).
Needless to say, the NSFC will not give grants to anyone who opposes any of the CCP’s initiatives (such as the Uyghur genocide), only to loyal party members (who support the Uyghur genocide).
Up until yesterday, his archived faculty webpage listed 12 publications… here are first few:
Wow! A solo GEB, a solo QE, a solo IJIO, and a solo AEJ:AE!
This is a very impressive record! These are some of the best journals in the world!
And all 4 of them obtained in the year before he went up for tenure/promotion… how fortuitous! Great timing!
The problem is that Tong Wang has never published a paper in GEB, QE, IJIO, or AEJ:AE.
So why were they listed on his faculty website?
I asked Dr. Wang to explain, here is his response:
Staff members do not directly manage our university webpage, the university has a system to read faculty members' database, called "pure" and listed on the website. On the backend, we record working papers, submitted papers, and publications together.
Once we have a publication, the school research office will be involved and verify the publication, so there is no way that people can fake "publications" in our school. However, I must say, our backend management and wording are not perfect. For instance, If I record a working paper submitted to GEB, it would show on the webpage as a journal contribution, the difference is that when you click on the link "view publication "of a real publication, the webpage would show the Doi, the link to the journal, etc. I took a snapshot to give an example, see attachment 1. This is what a real publication looks like.
For papers that are submitted/RR, it will show a page that indicates that this paper is 'in preparation. Currently, all the "view publications" links of these pipeline papers show a "page not found", this is because yesterday I have set all the working papers in the "pure" as restricted access. But to make a clarification, I snapshot the backend of these working papers for your reference as attachments 2.1 and 2.2. This paper was submitted to QE once and rejected, and currently IJIO RR.
I think this refers to your question about the "non-exist QE publication". Our university system recently got a problem and can not sync with staff members' backend effectively, actually, it should be a "non-exist publication of IJIO" if it works correctly. the webpage just reflected the past status when this paper is under QE's review. If one viewed my webpage earlier, one might find that I had a 'non-exist REStud', because the first submission of this paper is Restud...
I think these snapshots are enough to explain the system of our university webpage and why it shows like that. I attached the "non-exist GEB" for your reference too as attachment 3, it is currently under review by Economic Theory. They are correctly recorded in the university system, and the university web admins simply cannot sync at this moment.
As for the promotion, I attached my publication list snapshot as attachment 4, our group heads XXX and XXX can testify this is true. Again, there is no way that we could fake publications at this school.
I think this explains your issue and I am happy to address any further questions, Actually, things are much clearer with my personal website.
Sorry for the confusion about the webpage system, Actually I have sent emails to the research team and asked them to urge an update of my webpage. But all in all, there is a story of a non-functional and confusing webpage system, it is not about academic integrity.
Okay, so, he blames it on a glitch in the university’s database.
He also sent me a picture of the backend, but as far as I can tell, all this proves is that he uploaded misleading information to the backend so that it would show up on the frontend. This isn’t a “glitch” — this is the system functioning exactly like it is supposed to function, and he is taking advantage of it to mislead anyone who visits his website.
Suffice it to say that it is not common practice for econ professors to list papers on their website that have merely been submitted. For example, I could write a paper tomorrow and submit it to Econometrica — that doesn’t mean I am entitled to write Econometrica on my website and leave it there for several years.
At worst this is willfull fraud, at best it is still gross negligence/incompetence.
Even if this were a website glitch, this excuse relies on him never looking at his faculty page… not once in the past 2 years did he look at his own page, nor did his department chair. If they had, they would have immediately seen a bunch of elite publications. He would’ve been the best published economist in the department! This would not have gone unnoticed.
What are the chances that you never noticed the fact that all your best publications on your official website are fake?
How does a person not realize that their website is chalked full of elite publications?
How does a person think that nobody will click on any of their highest ranked publications?
His department chair backed him up:
I am writing as Tong Wang’s line manager to confirm that Tong’s explanation provided in his response to your e-mail is correct.
I can also confirm that only published papers were considered in relation to his promotion; and that there is no set number of papers or citations required for such promotions. The University takes a range of factors into account when making such decisions.
More information on promotions:
I trust this clarifies the issues raised in your email.
This “database glitch” excuse further fall apart when you realize that no other faculty member at Edinburgh Business School fell victim to it.
I sent this email twice to Wang, and to his department chair, and received no response, despite the fact that they answered all my other emails:
Not only does his “database glitch” defence rely on him never once looking at his own faculty page… but it also relies on him never looking at his Google Scholar page. Yes, dear reader, in addition to uploading the fake papers to his faculty webpage, he uploaded the fake GEB, QE, IJIO, or AEJ:AE to Google Scholar.
This Google Scholar page was scrubbed two days ago, just like his Edinburgh faculty page was scrubbed yesterday, but EJMR caught it.
I asked Wang to explain these fake publications on Google Scholar.
"Yesterday when I had a look at the GS page, I found that the non-exist ones seem to be identical to what was shown on the university's webpage, then I tracked the link and find that Google scholar directly gets the information from our university's database, I will show you the evidence by a short screen record, as attached.
The removed 'non-exist' papers are in the recycle bin, click on the paper, and follow the link... it goes to the university's webpage, the same as the "view publication" link on my university webpage. Hope this helps."
“Google scholar directly gets the information from our university's database”… this excuse actually makes sense at first blush, since as per Google's own documentation it does indeed crawl university repositories.
However, Google Scholar would NOT index these papers if there was no HTML or PDF available, which there was not.
My conclusion is that Wang manually added these fake publications to his Google Scholar page, and the reason he says “Google scholar directly gets the information from our university's database” is because he manually linked Google Scholar to the university database.
This is some impressive duplicity. Fictitious articles on the website, fictitious articles on google scholar, and fictitious citations. I have enjoyed reading all the absurd claims that this was the universities fault, that no pays attention to publications or citations, and that this university doesn't base their promotion on such items. I can't decide which takes more gall, making up the fictitious articles or making up these absurd claims about the source of the deceit.
— Anonymous Economist
Tong is a failed researcher.
Sure, he had a couple of respectable publications back in the day, one at JET and on at JoIE, but those were in 2016 and in 2012.
Nobody cited these papers — they had zero impact. Here are his citations per year, showing that he only had 12 citations when going up for promotion in 2021.
12 citations just doesn’t cut it at a good school like Edinburgh — they will kick you out, rather than promote you, if that is all you can muster in a decade since you obtained your PhD.
So what do you do if you only have 12 citations and 2 publications when you are up for promotion? Lie. Rig your faculty page and Google Scholar page so that it looks like you have publications in GEB, QE, IJIO, or AEJ:AE, all "published" juuuuust before promotion evaluation.
Is he really expecting us to believe in this story? What are the odds that this fortunate mistake, making him appear as an elite researcher, accidentally happened right before your tenure review?
Sure, there is a shred — just a shred — of plausible deniability, but I’m not buying it.
On the balance of probabilities I conclude that he knew he filled out the database incorrectly, and left it up anyways, because it was a happy mistake that made him look better. Now he is trying to play it off like a mistake.
Chinese people are widely known as the worst cheaters in academia.
For that reason, I am especially not inclined to give Tong Wang the benefit of the doubt — maybe if he were Japanese I’d be more inclined to believe his “plausible deniability” excuse — but Chinese scholars have not earned the goodwill that Japanese scholars have. Chinese scholars simply can’t be trusted: they cheat, they spy, and they laugh at us behind our backs as they do it.
They have no qualms about scamming and subverting western institutions and charities for personal fame and fortune (the University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.)
As per Campusreform:
80% of Chinese students use agents to apply to U.S. colleges
90% of recommendation letters are fake
70% of college essays submitted by Chinese students are fraudulent.
50% of previous grade transcripts are fake.
30% lied about financial aid information.
If Tong Wang denounces the Uyghur genocide, maybe he can be permitted to stay in the West as a political refugee, working in a non-research role (I hear McDonald’s is hiring). Better yet, here is an incident that occured this week in the UK, a chance for Tong to prove that he fits in the West:
You enjoy living in the West, right, Dr. Wang? You like the fruits of our values and society? Either denounce this Manchester incident publicly to your 1 million followers on Chinese social media — stand up for the Western right to protest peacefully! — or GTFO.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Tong Wang is famous in Chinese media?
He has nearly 1 million followers on Zhihu.
This is where he posts such fantastic scholarship such as “What if a girl licks your ice cream when you’re not single?” which somehow garnered 12,000 upvotes.
Chinese social media is weird, lol.
I would finish this article by stressing the ancient Chinese proverb:
In other words, if you want tenure and promotions and fame and glory, you should write good papers.
If you aren’t capable of writing good papers that garner more than 12 citations after a decade, maybe a career as a famous economics professor at a good school isn’t for you.