Preventing unethical behaviour requires regulatory and institutional reforms, as well as lead researchers remaining close to work done in their name, says Futao Huang
Since the implementation of China’s national strategy to build world-class universities in 1998, the country has rapidly increased its output of scientific papers. According to the US National Science Foundation’s 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report, China published more than 426,000 studies in 2016, accounting for 18.6 per cent of the publications indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus database. This means that China has surpassed the US to become the world’s largest producer of research papers.
China has grown to surpass the US and be a powerhouse of academic publishing, but its research misconduct problems have grown as well. It will be interesting to see if its recently toughened stance and approach will improve matters.
By academic rank, 38 of the accused academics were professors, and eight were associate professors. Among the more recent incidents of alleged misconduct is that of the immunologist Cao Xuetao, president of Nankai University in Tianjin, who faces questions about image manipulation in dozens of papers produced by laboratories that he leads.