(Beijing) — China’s education ministry and the national health commission will review over a 100 research papers taken down by an international academic journal after finding possible irregularities including plagiarism, according to China Association for Science and Technology.
Berlin-based Springer Nature said on April 20 that it has investigated 107 research articles authored by Chinese academics published in Tumor Biology between 2012 and 2016 and found that authors had supplied the journal’s editors with made-up contact information of third-party reviewers.
There have been several incidents in recent years where Chinese researchers, who are under pressure to produce academic papers to secure promotions, have been caught plagiarizing or falsifying research data.
The papers in question, 106 in total — not 107 as believed earlier — are a gross violation of academic norms and integrity, Shang Yong, party secretary of the government-backed China Association for Science and Technology told a news conference in Beijing on Thursday. About 80% of the papers were published before 2015, he said.
“The retraction has tarnished the reputation of the scientific community in China,” Shang said.
The association will supervise relevant government agencies including the Ministry of Education and the National Health and Family Planning Commission, who will evaluate each paper and their authors for possible irregularities such as plagiarism in order to hold errant parties to account, he said.
The scandal also helped expose lax oversight over academic activities in China and the network of agents offering ghost-writing services and predatory publishers who charged Chinese academics and doctors for publishing their work, he said.
Publishers must take the responsibility to verify the authenticity of academic papers including peer reviews, Wang Chunfa, director of the association said during a meeting with Arnout Jacobs, head of Springer Nature’s operations in Greater China on April 18, two days before the retractions were announced.