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State Research Plans to Be More Transparent

China is going to make its state research plans more transparent to the public as well as the scientific community in response to repeated research frauds which have squandered millions of yuan in public funds.


The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) vowed on Wednesday to use public funds more effectively to boost the country's innovative capability.


Xu Jianguo, a senior official responsible for allocating state research funds, said in an interview with Xinhua, "We're going to reform the state research planning in order to stimulate more innovative frontier research."


According to the Five-Year economic and social development plan from 2006 to 2010, China is expected to spend two percent of its gross domestic product by 2010 in research and development, which will be the largest ever sum of investment in scientific research.


But the scientific community is seriously concerned about how to allocate such large public funds. As the top agency overseeing the research fund allocation, the MOST disseminates about 30 percent of China's total R&D funds via conduits of national R&D programs.


A former hi-tech hero, the US-educated Chen Jin was sacked from his post of dean at Shanghai Jiaotong University.


A inter-agency discipline team confirmed that Chen faked his research on system-on-chip development, allegedly squandering tens of millions yuan of public funds under the state hi-tech R&D program which is called the 863 Program.


Xu said his ministry will post information on inviting applications for state R&D projects online. Meanwhile, they will build databases of candidate researchers and expert panels, with their credit history.


Xu said in the long term, the ministry plans to ask judging experts to make their decisions over the Internet.


"Non-disclosure of judges' names and distance appraisal on the Internet might help us prevent cheating and other misconduct during the decision-making procedure," Xu said.


The MOST has spent more than 12 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) on state R&D programs.


Lu Yongxiang, who chairs the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) which is another powerful engine for China's science advancement, said recently that a better mechanism should be designed to fight research fraud.


"Dishonesty and fickleness among a few scientists as well as inappropriate distribution of public funding for research should be blamed for deteriorating ethical standards of the scientific community," said Lu.


(Xinhua News Agency June 8, 2006)




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