The Evolving Landscape of Scientific Publishing in China

Scientific publishing in ChinaScientific publishing is thriving in China. The recently exposed misconduct may have caused concerns regarding the quality of scientific research conducted in China. But with enhanced regulation and extensive education, the situation will improve. And with the Chinese government’s continued support for scientific research, scientific publishing will continue to evolve in China.

Publication boom and misconduct

The past decade has witnessed an astonishing increase in the number of scientific papers published by Chinese scholars. The publication boom is an expected result of the Chinese government’s enhanced support for science and research. Universities and research institutions’ encouragement for publishing in English journals also fueled the growth. In addition to funding, many universities and research institutes offer various types of scientific publishing-related incentives, including name recognition, career advancement, as well as monetary awards known as “cash-per-publication” policies.

However, with the push for more publications, especially high-impact English publications, came along research and publication misconduct. The recently exposed scandals have unfortunately tarnished the integrity and reputation of Chinese research. The incidents also triggered investigations and crackdowns from the Chinese government agencies, including the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST). The investigations exposed various types of misconducts, including plagiarism, data falsification, as well as authorship purchasing and review manipulation.

Determined to improve the integrity and reputation of Chinese research and scientific publishing, the CAST has developed and is implementing a series of programs to prevent future frauds.

Challenges of scientific publishing

The truth is, many researchers (Chinese-speaking and English-speaking researchers alike), do not like to write. Writing is simply not something they like to do. If you ask, some of them will jokingly tell you that it’s why they are pursuing science, not writing! Writing in English adds another layer of challenges to many Chinese researchers.

To increase their chance of publishing in English journals, many Chinese researchers seek editorial assistance either from individual editors or editorial agencies. The need fueled the increase in the number of editorial service providers in China.

Continued need for publication guidance and assistance

Despite the setback caused by the publication misconduct, the need for legitimate scientific writing and editing services in China is still high. The main challenge, however, is how to uphold the ethical standards.

The good news is the Chinese government is making great efforts to enhance the research integrity in China. Many Chinese researchers and government officials fully understand the importance of research and publication integrity and they deeply care about their reputation. Through carefully planned educational programs, updated publication guidelines, and enhanced government regulations, the quality of scientific publishing in China will improve.

What legitimate editorial service providers need to do

The research misconducts unfortunately have negatively affected the image and reputation of all editorial service providers. In the future, companies that provide legitimate editorial services will need to try hard to distance themselves from the so-called “paper brokers,” and to hold high ethical standards. When necessary, they may also need to educate the researchers they serve and encourage them to follow the guidelines of international journals such as the ICMJE guidelines.  Building a transparent, ethical, and trustworthy relationship between legitimate editorial service providers and researchers will benefit every party involved.


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