China issues rules banning dishonesty in science publishing

After a series of scandals, Chinese regulators overseeing the field of academic publishing for scientific articles have issued rules explicitly banning dishonest practices.

The directive, dated Nov. 23 but released Wednesday, forbids Chinese scientists from using a third party to write , using a third party to submit articles, hiring a third party to substantially revise articles, providing fake peer review information, or giving authorship to scientists who have not substantially contributed to the research.

The directive from the country's leading science organizations and ministries, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Education, comes after several international science journals this year rejected or retracted submissions from Chinese scientists, citing academic dishonesty.

The scandals raised concerns about the credibility of China's scientists, and Chinese authorities said in a note accompanying the rules that the incidents have hurt the international reputation of China's scientific work.

In March, BioMed retracted 43 papers following an investigation that raised suspicions of fake peer reviews. Chinese state media said 41 of the papers came from Chinese scientists.

Berlin-based publisher Springer announced in August that it had retracted 64 articles—nearly all by Chinese authors—because of false peer reviews.

Chinese state media reported last month that an investigation by the Chinese Association for Science and Technology had found that fake peer reviews were "a tip of the iceberg" and that the buying and selling of journal articles was common.

Critics blame China's evaluation and promotion system, which places an emphasis on publishing articles, for the practices among scientists.

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