China issues rules to get tough on academic integrity

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has issued new guidelines to enforce academic integrity in science that include plans to "record and assess" the conduct of scientists and institutions and punish anyone guilty of misconduct, state news agency Xinhua reported. The guidelines, released on Wednesday by the ruling Communist Party and the State Council, or cabinet, prohibit plagiarism, fabrication of data and research conclusions, ghost-writing and peer review manipulation, according to Xinhua. Scandals in recent years involving things like faked research, plagiarism and problematic peer review standards have dented China's reputation as a growing force in the world of scientific research. Xinhua said China would build a "scientific integrity mechanism" to drive innovation while maintaining zero tolerance for severe academic dishonesty. "Anyone who violates the integrity rules will be held accountable by law," it said, citing a document issued by the party and government. "Those who are found to have committed academic misconduct will be banned from teaching or doing any kind of research work in government-run schools and scientific institutions. Their research grants will be canceled and honors revoked, according to the guidelines," it said. The Ministry of Science and Technology would take responsibility for coordinating and managing the effort in scientific fields, while the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences would do so in social sciences. Xinhua said the science ministry planned to build "a journal warning mechanism to put any domestic or international academic journals that ignores academic quality while seeking high payments onto a blacklist". Papers published in such journals would not be recognized in any kind of assessment, it said. The guidelines also aimed to change the standards by which scientists are evaluated so that integrity becomes a key factor, rather than just the production of papers, patents, titles, projects and the collection of honors, it said. (Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Stephen Coates)