Fang Zhouzi, the high-profile writer who is known as the "science cop" because of his battles against pseudo-science and academic fraud, found his own family at the receiving end of such allegations after a newspaper had published an article accusing his wife of plagiarizing other's work in the thesis she submitted for her master's degree in 2002.
The newspaper article bore the headline Fang Zhouzi's own family found to be dishonest - Wife copied others' work in her MA thesis and was published by Legal Weekly. The story said Liu Juhua, Fang's wife, cited the work of others in 146 paragraphs of her 159-paragraph thesis but only annotated 70 of those paragraphs with details of whose work she had used.
The article said Yi Ming, a Chinese scholar who now lives in the United States, made the discovery about the thesis along with other scholars.
The newspaper carried images of many paragraphs of the thesis, detailing how annotations should have been included.
Fang said on Thursday that Guo Guosong, the editor-in-chief of Legal Weekly, published the article to get revenge because Fang had once exposed the fact that a news story that Guo had written was fabricated.
Fang wrote on his micro blog: "Guo said in interviews that the article about my wife was in the public interest but in his micro blog he added that the story reveals Fang Zhouzi's lapse."
Fang said he and his wife filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Beijing-based newspaper Legal Daily, the parent company of Legal Weekly.
He said he does not believe his wife cheated in her thesis but noted she had simply cited some pieces of information as facts, claiming that "unstandardized use of annotations is very common among Chinese academic circles".