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Academic misconduct cases disclosed

Updated: 2013-08-02 08:17
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) on Thursday disclosed details of six cases of scientific misconduct in an effort to deter similar fraud and safeguard research integrity.

In these cases, researchers plagiarized or appropriated others' research results or project proposals, lied about their personal information, forged or tampered with empirical data, or hired a ghostwriter, according to a statement posted on the NSFC's website.

These researchers received penalties including being disqualified from projects within a given time or having their funds recovered, the statement said.

With government input in science and technology increasing over recent years, some researchers have committed forgery, distortion and plagiarism in exchange for approval of projects, funds and promotion.

"Research misconduct, which happens from time to time, is compromising academia and exerting a negative impact on the sound development of science and technology," said NSFC Director Yang Wei.

From the start of 2010 to June 30, 2013, the NSFC's supervision committee alone handled 468 complaints, tip-offs and proposals. In recent years, it has uncovered more than 80 incidents of research misconduct.

According to a survey conducted by the China Association for Science and Technology in 2009, nearly half of the 30,078 people polled from research institutes, universities and hospitals across the country believed academic cheating was "very common."

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), State Council, ministries, colleges and universities and academic communities have adopted different measures to curb research misconduct.

In September 2012, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, or China's cabinet, issued a guideline on deepening reform in the scientific and technological system and speeding up the building of the country's innovation system.

The guideline called for expanding the public's rights to know and supervise research activities, accelerating relevant legislation and imposing tougher penalties on academic misconduct.

In late 2012, the Ministry of Education released a document on handling cheating in academic dissertations, targeting cheaters and ghostwriters, as well as the mentors and institutions involved. The document took effect on January 1, 2013.

The development of information inquiry technologies has brought forth a decline in research misconduct, but some difficulties remain, said Chen Yiyu, an academic and head of the NSFC's supervision committee.

"Anonymous tip-offs via the Internet are the trickiest, for it is hard to verify related information," Chen said.

In general, the country is still in need of laws and regulations preventing and punishing misconduct, as well as standards for identifying misconduct, according to the NSFC's Yang Wei.

The NSFC has "zero tolerance" for misconduct, and will continue efforts to contain it, Chen said.

Promoting scientific integrity has a bearing on the long-term sound development of science and technology, Yang added. "It requires coordination at the state level to boost information sharing and cooperation among different departments."

Currently, six ministries and organizations, including the NSFC and the ministries of science and technology, and education, have joined hands in cracking down on academic misconduct and enhancing scientific ethics.

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