China adopts zero tolerance toward academic fraud

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China aims to become an innovative country by 2020 and will not tolerate any academic fabrication, falsification or plagiarism, Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang said on Monday.

China will raise academic conduct, improve credibility and gradually develop moral standards in society, Wan said in a speech at the annual meeting of the China Association for Science and Technology.

His speech gave hints about the blueprint for China's scientific and technological development during the period of 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the country's agenda for economic and social development.

The country has adopted an attitude of zero tolerance toward any acts of academic corruption and fraud, he said.

If academic misconduct in the past is uncovered, it will be harshly dealt with in the present.

"Fighting fraud is like the woodpecker, always pecking at the tree and digging out the pest," Wan said. "The woodpeckers protect the forest and we protect the academic field from unfair and dishonest practice."

Wan said scientific research involves the risk of failure and many projects eventually succeeded after experiencing numerous failures.

"We prefer honest work, even if it comes to nothing," he said. "We need a society which has enough patience to be able to withstand failures."

During the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2005-2010), the country had 2.3 million scientific workers and its number of published academic papers ranks second in the world, he said. But Chinese enterprises' capacity for technological innovation still needs to be improved.

"Learning and innovation will be the main thrust of our next Five-Year Plan and of mainstream corporate culture, allowing for the development of new knowledge and new technology," Wan said.

In response to Wan's remarks, Wang Yusheng, former director of the China Science and Technology Museum, took issue with his reference to published academic papers.

"We are long on quantity, but short on quality," he said. "Besides, there are fraudulent papers."

According to Wang, the references cited in scientific works, which are reviewed by peers, and the average accomplishment of each scientific worker are two of the best indicators of scientific and technological development.

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