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Ministry ramps up steps to prevent academic fraud

Pub Date:2020-09-02 08:38 Source:China Daily


Students attend a graduation ceremony at Peking University on July 2. [Photo/Xinhua] 

The Ministry of Science and Technology has created an interdepartmental database to record academic misconduct and prevent future offenses. It also supports universities and research institutions playing a major role in the battle against academic misconduct, officials said on Tuesday.

The nation's latest, and arguably the most detailed, guideline on safeguarding academic integrity, came into effect on Tuesday. Scientists who deliberately overvalue their work, provide false information when applying for funding or awards, or plagiarize or fabricate research will be severely punished, according to the guideline.

Depending on the severity of the offense, the punishments can range from revoking the offender's titles and prizes to permanently banning them from doing related research. Research institutions, as well as administrative staff, appraisal experts for scientific work and third-party agencies that serve scientific undertakings are also subject to the new regulations.

Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, told Xinhua News Agency on Monday that a high standard of academic integrity is the "lifeline of research", the "foundation of a world-class scientific powerhouse" and "determines the success and failure of scientific undertakings".

"We must take a 'zero-tolerance' approach on academic misdemeanors," Wang said. Research institutions, universities, companies and other civil organizations are at the front line of safeguarding academic integrity, and they should be responsible for investigating and preventing any violations, he added.

Dai Guoqing, director of the ministry's office in charge of science and technology supervision and promoting academic integrity, said the guideline lists 64 offenses during every stage of the scientific process, as well as details on how to handle them.

He said the new rules "allow for a stronger, more methodical and unified approach in supervising and handling academic misconduct".

When academic dishonesty occurred in the past, Dai said some research institutions either didn't take the reports seriously or purposely prolonged the investigation, hoping the controversy would blow over. The new guideline has items demanding all reports of academic misconduct must be investigated and properly dealt with, he added.

For example, universities, research institutions or the project's governing bodies that fail to carry out an investigation, or connive with or shield violators, can be punished with budget cuts, being barred from hosting future research projects or even judicial action.

"Some institutions are now proactively investigating academic fraud and other misdemeanors, and these actions should be encouraged and supported," Dai said.

Meanwhile, Dai said promoting academic integrity is a long and arduous process that requires the cooperation of all sectors of society. "The key now is for everyone to get on the same page and jointly carry out the new rules effectively," he said.

The ministry has also built a database with other government bodies to keep track of the academic misconduct of violators and institutions for reference when granting funds, Dai said.

"We hope all science workers will be self-disciplined and rule abiding. The database can serve as a powerful tool to make scientists think twice before committing fraud," he added.


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