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Huge science frauds uncovered in China

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From Bob Grant at The Scientist:

After a sweeping research misconduct investigation, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) has found nearly 500 researchers guilty of engaging in a peer-review fraud scam. Announced late last week (July 27), MST’s findings indicate that 486 scientific paper authors engaged, to some degree, in a scheme to nominate either fictitious or paid peer reviewers who would write positive reviews of their manuscripts.

MST is meting out stiff penalties to the guilty researchers. These range from suspending their research projects and canceling grants to rescinding promotions or even harsher retribution. “They will face punishment according to the Communist Party of China discipline regulations and the regulations on personnel from public institutions,” He told Chinese news outlet Xinhua. More.

At the risk of restating the obvious:

1) Science never does well for long in a totalitarian setting — where two and two make five whenever that guy with the cattle prod is in the vicinity.

2) Harsh punishments are not the answer. One reason capital punishment for theft was abolished in 19th century Britain was the acknowledgment that thieves were stealing purses at the foot of the gallows. What’s needed is a science discipline operating in a free society where cheating brings social disgrace among family, friends, and colleagues. Not merely the wrath of a government which also happens to be persecuting an old widow for handing out Bible verses.

See also: Tales of the Tone Deaf, featuring dim profs writing in dozy journals about why people doubt Science and how to fix them.


Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

4 Replies to “Huge science frauds uncovered in China

  1. 1

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  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    Not only in science and technology, but throughout academia in China academic fraud is the norm, not the exception.

    I have seen many of my students (they tell me quite candidly), write coerced academic research for teachers and professors. This practice is because the professor must remain ‘published’, the university must retain ‘rankings’, and the government dutifully rewards this sham academic productivity.

    It is not the academics fault really, the pressure applied to them to publish is immense, and the students acknowledge they will probably follow the same practices.

    It is completely different in the military however. Shoddy research, and design in that area is not permissable.

    I have only experienced this teaching burden once, and not at my current university.

    Basically I was told >80% of my class on ‘Forms of Government’, given to engineering, and science majors had to pass.

    My response was a simple, ‘no!’ Anyone who knows Chinese Universities will also know it is the mathematics, engineering, and science students whose English is best anyway. The Foreign Language Departments are very poor usually. But a degree in English must mean you can speak it; no!? Usually not.

    Fully 98% of the tech students passed, and the unversity turned a blind eye to the rest; my ‘no’, was ignored. In this case I didn’t mind, the failing students were brilliant tech prospects. They would do fine in Oz, the US, or UK.

    Also 98% of 16 is 15.68, so the remaining 0.32, was easy to ignore. Heh:)

  3. 3

    rvb8 @ 1: Your best post yet. Keep them coming!

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    “…486 scientific paper authors engaged, to some degree, in a scheme to nominate either fictitious or paid peer reviewers who would write positive reviews of their manuscripts.”

    What’s wrong with that?
    Why is that wrong?

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