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ResourcesResearch IntegrityPublish or perish in China – Nature (Jane Qiu | January 2010)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Publish or perish in China – Nature (Jane Qiu | January 2010)


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The pressure to rack up publications in high-impact journals could encourage misconduct, some say.

Even though this piece is from 2010 the volume of recent research integrity/human research ethics misconduct cases from the PRC (e.g. as reported by Retraction Watch) suggests it remains relevant today and perhaps the suggested reasons remain a factor.

The latest in a string of high-profile academic fraud cases in China underscores the problems of an academic-evaluation system that places disproportionate emphasis on publications, critics say. Editors at the UK-based journal Acta Crystallographica Section E last month retracted 70 published crystal structures that they allege are fabrications by researchers at Jinggangshan University in Jiangxi province. Further retractions, the editors say, are likely.
Chinese universities often award cash prizes, housing benefits or other perks on the basis of high-profile publications, and the pressure to publish seems to be growing. A new study from Wuhan University, for instance, estimates that the market for dubious science-publishing activities, such as ghostwriting papers on nonexistent research, was of the order of 1 billion renminbi (US$150 million) in 2009 — five times the amount in 2007. In other studies, one in three researchers surveyed at major universities and research institutions admitted to committing plagiarism, falsification or fabrication of data.

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