As part of a misconduct crackdown, Chinese funders are penalizing researchers who commission sham journal articles from ‘paper mills’, but some say the measures still don’t go far enough.
Two major research funders in China have conducted a spate of misconduct investigations, punishing at least 23 scientists for using ‘paper mills’ — businesses that produce sham manuscripts, including fake data to order.
China has received a fair amount of academic/research criticism these days. When it comes to the treatment of Uighurs, use of facial recognition, prisoner organs and consent, criticism is not unreasonable. In this case, they are deserving of praise. Treating the impact of paper mills and their deleterious impact on the scientific record as a serious matter. Taking action against those paper mills and the people that use them are great moves. We have included links to eight related items.
Although researchers occasionally faced sanctions before 2020, this was the first time that misconduct policies included violations involving independent businesses that sell writing or data services to researchers.
The punishments are a “major step forward” for China, says Xiaotian Chen, a library and information scientist at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, who has studied retractions and research misconduct in China.
However, compared with the norms in some parts of the world “they may still not be strong enough”, he says. For example, publishing fabricated or falsified data in papers funded by government grants might be considered fraud in some countries, he says, and therefore a criminal offence…