New Chinese Regulations to Improve Research Output

In recent years, China’s R&D has experienced remarkable growth. The government has placed a strong emphasis on science and research, and this has resulted in scientific progress. Several new research papers got published. These publications are both domestic and international. Recently, however, China has created new rules for the distribution and publication of research data. The rules will improve the quality of scientific research publications from China. Let us learn more about the new rules.

More Publications, More Problems

The growth of China’s R&D has amazed the world. Just three decades ago, China ranked third in the world in producing scientific publications. In 2017, China rose to number one, surpassing the United States and the European Union. Along with a government focus on science and R&D, the system of payment for scientific publication contributed to this achievement. China rewards its scientists and academics very well for publishing in prestigious international journals. This has worked as an incentive for the researchers.

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In addition to boosting academic achievements and scientific breakthroughs, the system has created a negative incentive. Some authors used fake data in order to publish more papers. Such practices could make them earn money, build a reputation, or promote their research. Last year, Springer retracted 107 research papers by Chinese authors that were not properly peer-reviewed. Therefore, instead of the quantity, the quality of the papers need to checked.

Improving Data Quality and Security

In order to address these problems, the General Office of the State Council issued a notice to researchers in March regarding new measures for managing scientific data. The measures include researchers submitting their papers to state authorities for review prior to publication. The notice explained that the State Council’s Administration Department for Science and Technology will lead “integration and coordination of the scientific data of the whole country”. The goal of this regulation is to safeguard valuable data while meeting quality standards. The regulations call for increased open access and data sharing. However, the new regulation also means that scientists will only be able to publish their data and findings with the approval of the Chinese government.

Impact on China’s Science Publishing

The academic community has welcomed these new regulations. This is because many scientists are aware of the problems with data quality and fraud. At the same time, the pay to publish system has been successful in increasing R&D output in China. The regulation offers a way to control data quality while keeping the system in place. Ye Yujiang, Director of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s basic research department, explained that the lack of regulation led to Chinese scientists missing out on opportunities to use valuable data. In a press release to the China Daily, he stated that difficulty in data regulation has proved degrading in China’s effort to become a global technological powerhouse. These new regulations may solve this issue.

However, a part of the academic community is in doubt of the new rules. Some researchers worry about publishing delays, as the data would now be needed to get approval from a government organization. Nancy Sung, head of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Beijing, voiced concern. She thinks that the new regulation could impact the publication of data collection funded through NSF. As this is against the principles of NSF, controversy might arise in the implementation of these regulations.

It is clear that there is a need for quality control and stricter regulation of science publishing in China. The recent cases of fraud threaten to overshadow China’s exceptional accomplishments in R&D and scientific progress. While it remains to be seen whether this regulation will have its intended effect, it signals an important step towards improving the quality of scientific data.

What do you think of China’s new rule? Will it improve publication quality? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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