Reform of academic evaluation system needed: experts

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/17 16:18:39

Experts on Monday called on China to reform on the evaluation system of professionals after a science association urged scientists to combat academic fraud, particularly the fabrication of statistics, plagiarism and all forms of ghostwriting.

The China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) on Friday issued a guideline in response to foreign publishing groups withdrawing articles produced by Chinese scientists, which had "negative social repercussions" and "tarnished the international reputation of Chinese scientists."

The retraction of the papers shows that some scientists lacked self-discipline and "lost the balance of their mindset in the face of the temptation of fame," according to the guideline.

The guideline lists "four objections" for Chinese scientists,  the objection to research data fabrication, plagiarism, ghostwriting and faking peer reviews and other forms of corruption in academic evaluation. 

CAST also called on local science associations to improve their science and technology evaluation systems and establish ethics committees in universities, institutions and hospitals to step up investigations into academic misconduct.

"Fabricating academic papers and bribing to publish is a very serious problem in Chinese institutions and universities due to the country's publication-oriented evaluation system for teachers and researchers," Zhu Lijia, a public management professor from the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Monday.

The amount of papers published by influential publishers are very important in the evaluation system, such as the researchers' salaries. Some professors even pushed a cart full of published papers when they applied for academic titles, said Zhu.

Apart from requiring self-discipline from researchers, authorities should also develop Internet technology to timely detect the suspected fabricated papers, Zhu said.

"More importantly, the country's evaluation system should shift from stressing the number of papers to quality of the papers, such as the number of citations by authentic institutions," Zhu said.

A doctor from Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province who has been evaluating doctors for several years, said that she has discovered many academic frauds involving doctors.

"Many of them turned to someone else to write papers for them, so they could earn a higher title in the hospital or academic degrees in universities," said the doctor who requested anonymity.

She said that the current punishment of suspending application for professional titles for a year is inadequate for curbing academic fraud, and the authorities should ban those doctors from promotion for life in serious circumstances.

Berlin-based publisher Springer announced on April 21 that it withdrew 107 scientific articles produced by Chinese institutions from editions of the Tumor Biology journal published between 2012 and 2016, because the papers "had been deliberately compromised by fabricated peer reviewer reports.

Newspaper headline: Scientists urged to fight fraud

Posted in: SOCIETY

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