China’s largest online academic database China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) announced that it will give individuals access to its plagiarism-checking service, a month after receiving an antitrust investigation by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), as reported by South China Morning Post on June 13. CNKI stated that it neglected the practical needs of numerous individual users in the past when it only provided plagiarism-checking services for institutions. This practice gave rise to a black market for plagiarism service access at high prices. After the rectification, the company now charges individual users RMB1.5 (USD0.22) per thousand Chinese characters for plagiarism detection. Furthermore, it now allows graduate students with institutional access to review a paper three times for free, doubling the previous average free chances of 1.5 times.
China’s top research group Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) suspended access to CNKI journal articles last month due to the steep rise in subscription fees, which stirred up widespread criticism of CNKI’s unreasonable prices and triggered the antitrust investigation. Chinese university students generally use CNKI for both academic references and inspecting their own work for plagiarism, as the CNKI database covers more than 90% of the published journals in the Chinese Mainland. Given that the plagiarism-checking service was not available to individuals, and students with institutional access only had limited free checks, many students had to turn to online merchants who resell CNKI’s plagiarism-checking, sometimes at high prices with no guarantee of validity.