Absurdly bad, sexist academic paper riles up Chinese internet

China’s Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, a Chinese scientific journal that’s been around for more than 40 years, has drawn flak recently after a 2013 paper resurfaced online. Featuring a flattering depiction of a scholar’s “noble qualities” and his wife’s “elegance,” the article was seen as indicative of several serious flaws in Chinese scientific research and academic publishing, such as reciprocal nepotism, a dysfunctional peer review system, and misuse of research funds.

Xú Zhōngmín 徐中民, a researcher working for the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), wrote the 35-page paper “Theory and practice of ecological economics integration framework,” in which he praises his research adviser — and editor of the journal — for his “peaceful personality” and “magical spirit.”

Xu also devotes a large chunk of the paper to praising Xu’s wife for living out an egregiously sexist Chinese idiom, which reads “Ignorance is a woman’s virtue” (女子无才便是德 nǚzǐ wú cái biàn shì dé).

The paper in question was the result of a “major research project” on the Heihe River Basin, which received 2 million yuan ($290,000) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and took four years for Xu to complete.

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—Jiayun Feng