China’s research-misconduct rules aim to stop fake studies

China’s research-misconduct rules target ‘paper mills’ that churn out fake studies

Measures to crack down harder on falsified work look good on paper, but critics say that enforcement will continue to be a problem. Measures to crack down harder on falsified work look good on paper, but critics say that enforcement will continue to be a problem.

China’s science ministry is set to introduce its most comprehensive rules so far for dealing with research misconduct. The measures, which come into effect next month, outline what constitute violations and appropriate punishments. They will apply to anyone engaged in science-and-technology activities, including researchers, reviewers and heads of institutions.

The policy also includes, for the first time, violations by independent contractors, such as those who sell academic papers, fabricate data and write or submit articles on behalf of researchers. The rule is designed to tackle researchers’ widespread use of companies known as paper mills, which produce manuscripts that are often based on falsified data.

Some scientists say the regulations will help to curb bad behaviour and improve research integrity in Chinese institutions. They are a “big step forward”, says Li Tang, who studies science policy at Fudan University in Shanghai.

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