Measures to crack down harder on falsified work look good on paper, but critics say that enforcement will continue to be a problem.
China’s science ministry is set to introduce its most comprehensive rules so far for dealing with research misconduct. The measures, which come into effect next month, outline what constitute violations and appropriate punishments. They will apply to anyone engaged in science-and-technology activities, including researchers, reviewers and heads of institutions.
This move by China is to be congratulated, but this is not the first time China has released tough research integrity policies. We don’t entirely agree with this Nature piece. The answer is not together penalties and enforcement. Instead the situation should be approached as a “change of research culture” endeavour. Step one is to change the perverse incentives for bad behaviour.
Some scientists say the regulations will help to curb bad behaviour and improve research integrity in Chinese institutions. They are a “big step forward”, says Li Tang, who studies science policy at Fudan University in Shanghai.
But others doubt the changes will make a difference, because misconduct regulations already exist, but are not enforced.
“They don’t need to make new rules. There are plenty of old regulations ready,” says Shi-Min Fang, a writer based in San Diego, California, whose work focuses on exposing scientific fraud in China.