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Young authors in South Korea

The South Korean government is to begin an investigation into cases of researchers registering their own children as coauthors of their scientific articles. The decision was announced following the release of a government report that identified 82 recently published papers with minors listed as coauthors—most were high-school age, but some were still attending elementary school. According to Nature, the researchers were likely trying to give their children an advantage in the fight for a university place, which is a highly competitive process in the country.

The cases were discovered thanks to an analysis of articles written by more than 70,000 Korean researchers in all fields of knowledge over the last 10 years. The study, carried out by the South Korean Ministry of Education, made news at the end of 2017 when a minor was identified as the coauthor of a scientific article alongside a relative who works at Seoul National University. This type of coauthorship was found in papers published by researchers from 29 South Korean universities. In 39 of the 82 articles, the children supposedly took part in the research through a special student program. The Korean government did not disclose the names of the researchers under investigation, nor the periodicals involved.