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
"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.