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China's Research Ambitions Hurt By Faked Results

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the science-fiction dept.

The Media 338

Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that plagiarizing or faking results is so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China's efforts to become a leader in science. China's state-run media recently rejoiced over reports that China publishes more papers in international journals than any other country except the US; but not all the research stands up to scrutiny. In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated, and expressing amazement that a fake crystal structure would be submitted for publication. 'Academic fraud, misconduct and ethical violations are very common in China,' said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University. 'It is a big problem.' Last month the Education Ministry released guidelines for forming a 35-member watchdog committee and has asked universities to get tough but Rao remains skeptical. Government ministries are happy to fund research but not to police it, Rao says. 'The authorities don't want to be the bad guy.'"

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Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893052)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational. Compound this with a manipulative media, and what you get are fat, happy citizens who are staunchly nationalistic and xenophobic. All they care about is money.

If you want some positive moderation, reply to the above true statement about the Chinese changing only the nationality.

Re:Ever done business in China? (3, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893102)

I get lots of fabricated resumes at work from china and other developing countries as well. they will lie cheat and steal to get their way - china has truely embraced western culture.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893124)

they will lie cheat and steal to get their way - china has truely embraced western culture.

Except that Western culture has watchdogs like the SEC that will bring massive fraud lawsuits against you when you try to cheat and steal.

Re:Ever done business in China? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893146)

what the fuck is SEC going to do about fake science papers?

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893164)

fake science papers are vetted - peer review here is intense.

Re:Ever done business in China? (5, Interesting)

mojo-raisin (223411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893366)

Peer review may be intense, but I find that flaws in research are often ignored.

As my prof said to me the other day: "I could sell this no problem," in reference to my MS thesis work. I have been hoping to do more supportive research, but in the "publish, publish, publish" world, it has been deemed more prudent to move on to other work.

As the Prof said, there are two possibilities if I attempt the background(controls). (1) They work, in which case I've bought nothing (her words). or (2) The controls don't work in which case everything is garbage. The Prof would rather remain ignorant if that is the case... wow.

What honesty we have here in Academia USA!

A few sentences later, the sage Prof said, "It's not unethical."

I thought I was getting a MS degree to learn and do science well. Instead, it's become drudgery.

Re:Ever done business in China? (5, Interesting)

Hatman39 (1759474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893464)

Well, evidently you have never published, or if you have, you have never run a larger (multi-pub) project. In this case, you'd publish and then proceed to do the background checks. If the background checks fail, you can publish those as well. If your original research turns out fine, you tack on some additional (original) research and publish that. Also, given that it worked in a single case, you are evidently on to something. Ergo, checking again is, at this point, a waste of time. You share your findings with the world, and then have other people run with it as well. More on-topic: I have seen a lot of Chinese, and more generally Asian, papers in my field... but not one of them is original. Also, doubtful results do pass by from time to time (although verifying this is hard, when it comes to sattelite observations there's no doing it twice). It seems that Chinese scholars (based on the ones I know and the research I see) are more concerned with quantity, as it improves your scholarly standing very directly, than with quality. So reproducing research (in my field: doing data assimilation on soil moisture for the umphteenth time) is a quick and easy way to get this.

Re:Ever done business in China? (3, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893478)

Out of sheer curiosity, what school are you attending? Behavior like that would result in a pretty amusing, and probably very public, outcome at a school like GA Tech.

Re:Ever done business in China? (2)

mojo-raisin (223411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893588)

I won't be saying the school name here ;)

One does not throw around these accusations, and the wagons would be circled rather quickly.

My project is rather tangential to the work the rest of the lab does. I will be the only who ever does the work in the lab, and no one else will ever follow up on it.

I've never been part of a multi-pub project, that is true, but that is not the point here.

Back to the the topic of the post - I have heard of other labs (postdoc mills) also conducting shady research. My point, is that we should not be too high and mighty about research in the USA compared to other countries. Maybe the volume of cheating is less, but it does still occur.

Re:Ever done business in China? (2, Interesting)

Hatman39 (1759474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893686)

Of course, every market has its issues. This is true for industry as it is for science. No one in science denies this, but I think some people outside of science have a slightly too romantic view of it.
As for the multi-pub thing: The case is isn't that if you have some severly deficient research you should just publish it, more that you
1) Shouldn't see your paper as the last one (either by your lab, or by others)
2) Shouldn't try to cover ever inch of the matter.

As you state:

My project is rather tangential to the work the rest of the lab does. I will be the only who ever does the work in the lab, and no one else will ever follow up on it.

And in the light of this, your statement does make some more sense.

I think the main problem, with China and elsewhere, is that it is very, very difficult to assess the quality of someone's scientific work. As a result, pubs and impact factor have become the standard of choice, and it has brought forth a mercenary attitude. Because of this, people have attempted less than honest tactics. Sadly, the only solution I see is either removing the entire meritocracy in science, or a complete reworking of the system in some way (don't ask me how). In short, I doubt that the problem is really China or Chinese culture, but has more to do with the way science is currently organized.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893198)

well, I think we just stretched this into ethical standards as a whole.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893916)

what the fuck is SEC going to do about fake science papers?

As much as the fake resumés and general culture that you mentioned.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Funny)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893194)

Yeah, that Madoff thing , they were right on top of it.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893408)

At least they went after Madoff after the fact.

In China, he wouldn't have been caught during the act, or prosecuted afterwords. If he had been caught, he would have just split a portion of the profits with their government.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Interesting)

ppanon (16583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893498)

Heh, what do you think happened with Madoff for 20 years? The only reason he got caught is that the economic downturn caused enough people to need to pull some of their money out of the Ponzi scheme that it collapsed when the piggy bank was emptied.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893736)

In China he would most likely have gotten a trial of 2-3 days behind doors followed by an execution within a few weeks after that.

Someone like Madoff would have been in too big a hole, and have pissed off too many people, to be able to buy his way out.

These days I regularly read in the Hong Kong newspapers about high-flying politicians and businesspeople being sentenced to long jail terms or indeed to death for corruption and other financial crimes such as pyramid schemes. The central government is serious when it comes to fighting corruption however it is really really hard as the lower echelons are so thoroughly corrupt. As a rule of thumb the higher up in the government the less corruption you find (though when it takes place the amounts of money involved become mind blowing).

Re:Ever done business in China? (5, Interesting)

saihung (19097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893508)

I heard the same thing about academic credentials from my friends on various grad faculties. They simply cannot depend on any of the transcripts, CVs, or recommendations they get from China. There are so many universities that no one has ever heard of that it's basically impossible to confirm anything. And professors in China simply don't write rec letters. When asked, they do what only piss-poor professors in the USA do - they just have the student write the thing and they sign it, unread. If the situation is really bad, the student signs the thing too.

Re:Ever done business in China? (0)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893556)

Beat me to it, eh. Yeah, they learn fast, don't they.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893110)

Yep and so it goes. I'm sure either we or our children will hear about Africa, South America or Elbonia getting all of the outsourced manufacturing/IT work from China. It seems as though no matter whether you're communist, capitalist or any other -ist, when it comes to resource management, it's always a race to the bottom at all costs.

Re:Ever done business in China? (-1, Flamebait)

riT-k0MA (1653217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893250)

One problem: people in Africa don't tend to work as hard as people from the Far East, making it cheaper to keep it there.

Re:Ever done business in China? (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893452)

Citations, minus the anecdotes, please.

Seriously - I've met lazy swine of every race, color, religion, and culture. Just as I've met hard working dedicated people of every race, color, religion and culture.

If your own personal prejudices blind you to the good in some people, that is your loss. And, it also makes you far less valuable to the world. Try to get over it. Someone, somewhere, COULD HAVE BEEN your best freind and your greatest asset in life, if you hadn't been prejudiced against his skin color.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893516)

skin colour is a strawman arguement. it's not the colour brown people hate, it's the culture they identify when they see a particular set of features.

you will see the exact same reaction from someone who hates chinese people if you shown them chinese writing as when you show them a chinese person.

and yes, some culutres have huge flaws that anyone in their right mind would hate.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893748)

The far east has far more stable governments (whether you like them or not: China's government is a prime example of a stable, strong government), and that is what's needed for economic development.

Africa, largely thanks to European colonialism, suffers from constant civil war. It is not easy to set up businesses when you will have to run your own private army to protect your interests.

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893826)

Africa, largely thanks to European colonialism, suffers from constant civil war.

Wait, what?

You must be insane to make a statement like that.

Re:Ever done business in China? (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893884)

Not sure how serious you try to be here.

OK I'm European. My forefathers once sat down together and divided Africa between them. They took a map, a ruler and pencil, and started chopping up the continent. Literally. That's why to this day there are so many straight borders there.

That put many groups together in one country that shouldn't be, and spread other groups over two (or more) countries.

And as a result there is a virtual constant state of civil war in the continent. Some places more than others, but in the last ten years most have had civil war. Somalia is the current worst off, Ethiopia was a major problem before (I believe it's somewhat stable now but not really keeping track).

Kenya is currently doing quite well: no civil wars going on in most of the country at least, but the security situation is still poor though a handful of armed guards is enough for a foreigner to survive, and as a result they pull in a lot of foreign investment such as Dutch flower growers.

Re:Ever done business in China? (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893122)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational.

Asian religions in general lack the fixed rules found in western moral systems. The ancient "Art of War" text is pretty much about using manipulation and deceit to win wars without even doing battle. This kind of cunning is prized in Chinese culture. It also results in less physical conflict.

I don't necessarily think this means that westerners are more honest, it's just that cheating is frowned upon enough that it's usually caught earlier, among peers. Because it's more accepted in Chinese culture, it can pile up to the very end among larger teams.

Further, in a crowded and competitive environment, some may be pressured to take more risk, and this risk is often deceit. It's often an all-or-nothing game.

Why Do We Do This? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893286)

I mean, seriously. If it was some white dude in Wall Street caught in fraud, or some Ivy-League professor caught cheating on his results, we'd blame the perp for cheating, and the regulatory bodies for not catching the perp.

But the minute it becomes Something About The Savage Yellow People, you get all these amateur anthropologists, who make well-reasoned and completely accurate statements, like this:

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational.

I mean, the article makes it clear; the Chinese government doesn't want to police, and they're pushing for results (which is why they're crowing about the large numbers of papers published). Isn't that evidence enough for making wrong-doing easier?

Why We Do This (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893336)

We do this because many people who have the pleasure of working with China have such similar experiences of being treated royally and being ripped off. If these were isolated incidents, we would all point to the perpetrator as the guilty party, but what experience has shown us is precisely that it isn't the case of a few bad apples. Rather, there seems to be a systemic problem (maybe cultural, maybe a problem with incentives, who knows) that leads to a huge amount of what we Westerners would consider dishonesty conducted in Chinese business (and as we see here in education as well).

You can act like a typical mefite and claim whatever moral high ground you want, but when the vast majority of those of us who have experiences in China all come back and say the same thing, it's you who is probably wrong, not us.

Re:Why We Do This (5, Interesting)

victorhooi (830021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893440)

heya,

Disclaimer: Yes, I'm of Chinese descent.

As sad as it is, I think I have to agree with many of the above commentators. There does seem to be a strange lack of morals in people from the PRC, particularly the students. In Australian universities, rightly or wrongly, they have something of a reputation for being underhanded, plagiarising cheats who you really, really do not want to have in your group assignments. That's not to say they're the only one's doing it, far from it, but they definitely have that reputation. Maybe things have changed, I don't know.

In terms of the underlying reason, It could be for any number of reasons. Maybe they find the language hard? *shrugs*. But then students from other countries don't resort to cheating. Or maybe they don't quite understand what exactly plagiarism is? I don't know. I doubt it. Maybe they don't know how to reference? I worked in one group where they basically copied entire paragraphs, word for word, from our mentor's project (submitted the year before). They didn't even both to change the product names to match what we were doing. And when I confronted them, they didn't seem particularly repentant, more annoyed they got caught. Heck, I've seen them submit in Wikipedia articles as their project, formatting unchanged.

I really don't think it's a cultural thing as such. True, Confucianism does have its weird quirks. But to argue that we have no morals is a little unfair. However, my father taught me a saying when we were young, I probably can't even write the characters anymore...haha...disgraceful, but basically, it went along the lines of when your wealth is short, your morals are correspondingly short. Maybe that's it. But I doubt most of the international students arriving here are exactly "poor", by any definition.

I suspect it's really just a "win at any costs" culture endemic on the mainland, combined with their infamous mercenariness. Even in business, from what I've heard, you really, really want to be careful dealing with them. They'll screw you over nine ways to Sunday, and sell their own grandmother to make a buck. *sigh*. It really is sad to see, but maybe things will change, as they get wealthier?

Cheers, Victor

Re:Why We Do This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893702)

when your wealth is short, your morals are correspondingly short

Is this form art of war. I mean i'm pretty sure it is.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893330)

Asian religions in general lack the fixed rules found in western moral systems. The ancient "Art of War" text is pretty much about using manipulation and deceit to win wars without even doing battle. This kind of cunning is prized in Chinese culture. It also results in less physical conflict.

Not just that, but there also seems to be some cultural component that makes it a lot less okay to be wrong. I've heard from people in several different fields that it's difficult to work with Asian contractors or company branches because the managers there will tend to try to hide problems and upcoming delays until it blows up in their face, where people with a more "western" mindset would want to be told early.

Re:Ever done business in China? (2, Insightful)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893410)

OTOH, the Chinese classic - the "Tao teh Ching" positively prohibits cunning and urges people to stop being too smart. It also talks about how the government should never interfere with the people and never to make too much of a commotion about anything.

And it's older than the art of war...

It goes without saying that the current Chinese government has completely forgotten the Tao teh ching and doesn't give a shit about its own culture.

Re:Ever done business in China? (2, Informative)

PiSkyHi (1049584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893670)

The Tao Te Ching is one of my favourite books. I am now living in Beijing and it seems that of the main 3 fabled founders of Chinese Wisdom, Lao Tzu, Confucius and Sun Tsu, Lao Tzu is consistently misunderstood and misrepresented.

It seems this text is too much like poetry and its brilliance only strikes a chord with very few - since its lessons require a kind of letting go of the illusion of control, most people can't hear its messages at all.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

taylorius (221419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893696)

OTOOH, have you considered that for someone well schooled in "The art of war", a post-dated memetic virus encouraging the populace to be docile and credulous might be just the ticket... mwahahaha..

Re:Ever done business in China? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893488)

You know nothing about Chinese culture.

First, Art of War is not a religious text nor a social/philosophical text. Like its name implies it was written as a manual for *war*, of course it doesn't teach morals (as some would even argue morals gets in the way of efficient warfare). Outside of warfare, all the great philosophers of Chinese history like Confucius preach honesty and nobility in treating others. Let's not even forget all the *real* religions such as Buddism and Tao which all talk about things like doing bad will bring bad back upon yourself.

The problem is purely social due to communist ruling which led to a super-poor lower class who has nothing to lose and would risk anything because worse comes to worse, they die either way (either from hunger from lack of money, revenge for cheating someone, or capital punishment if caught, whichever comes first), as well as the new found rich whom 10/20 years ago were the super-poor, aren't educated enough to teach their kids proper morals, or worse still, teach them to be selfish because "That's how your dad got rich! you follow me and be ruthless or you'll rot like those beggars on the street". It will take another generation or two before proper education will change the mentality. But for sure it has nothing to do with religion (as much as I'm anti-religion, the religions in China DO have good morals as well as the same stuff like the Golden Rule), it's the social condition forcing it upon people.

Not sure why that's relevant (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893844)

I'm not sure why that's relevant to the discussion at hand. War isn't normal morals, and misinformation and acting unpredictably has been part of it in western warfare too, long before they heard of Sun Tzu.

E.g., even heard of the Trojan Horse? How's that for deceit in warfare? That's about a war from the 12'th century BC, while Sun Tzu is generally accepted to have lived in the 6'th-5'th century BC, while some place him as late as 3'rd century BC.

Where was that morality of western religions then? Or maybe using war strategies to make general points about a culture's morality is just silly. Society doesn't work by the same rules, not here and not in China.

But if you want to discuss civillian morals in the same age as Sun Tzu lived, how about The Rape Of The Sabines episode? The Romans had a shortage of women, so they invited the citizens of nearby cities (Sabines included, but not only) to a great festival in honour of Neptune. Then at a signal from Romulus himself they killed the men -- their guests! -- and took the women for themselves.

Does it sound to you like those western moral systems were that great? We're not talking about warfare feints and deceit, we're talking an atrocity against their neighbours they were at peace with. (Though not for long. It put Rome at war with three cities immediately.)

And lest you think it's just an ancient thing, the practice of "rehabilitating marriage" in which a raped woman is given to the rapist to save honour only came to a screeching halt in Italy in 1965. It used to be more like described as two teenagers having run away together, but it turns out most cases were abduction and rape by force, as a way to make a girl's family marry her to some guy she didn't want.

Western morals and religious rules, eh?

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893852)

Religion? You've got to be kidding me. Where was the morality in the Catholic Church when all those young boys were molested? They just tried to hide it. The Japanese share the same (or similar) religion as China, but the Japanese don't have the same honesty issues like China. It has to do with the culture and the economic situation of the country.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

pkphilip (6861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893920)

why have fixed rules? I thought truth/morals/values etc are all subjective and varies from person to person?

Chinks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893126)

What else do you expect from a bunch of chinks? Penis so tiny.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893136)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational

Mine too. But I get called an asshole for it.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893216)

Excellent point! Better than mine, that it's a 'big problem' because they're covering up for some 'little, tiny problem'

Re:Ever done business in China? (2, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893348)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational. Compound this with a manipulative media, and what you get are fat, happy citizens who are staunchly nationalistic and xenophobic. All they care about is money.

Mostly true (especially the "care about money" part, Chinese are getting very materialistic and may surpass the US in that soon if they haven't done so already - looking at the better-off city dwellers at least).

Manipulative media? Not really - manipulated media is the correct way to say it. The government manipulates the media in China, the press has very little freedom.

And nationalistic yes for sure, xenophobic also but less strong.

But fat and happy citizens? Well in the literal sense they are fattening up indeed (not as bad as in the US but certainly waistlines are increasing), but there is a lot of unhappiness in China. Really a lot. You don't hear too much about it because such news is suppressed by the censor. Unhappiness about censorship of news, about corruption, about abuse of power, and last but not least about the shortage of women due to the skewed birth rates leaving many men without wives (and for a man to remain unmarried and childless that's really really bad in Chinese social culture).

If you want some positive moderation, reply to the above true statement about the Chinese changing only the nationality.

Change it to "American" and you're about as close to the truth indeed :)

Re:Ever done business in China? (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893354)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational. Compound this with a manipulative media, and what you get are fat, happy citizens who are staunchly nationalistic and xenophobic. All they care about is money.

Replace that "Chinese" with American and you would have a vaguely true statement as well!

Although this report doesn't surprise me, China already had been faking Antiques 5,000 years ago. It's a long tradition.

To be fair, faked results happen here from time to time. But the scientific community built around verifying thing would eventually collectively beat this type of behavior down - sometimes motivated by schadenfreude as much as anything from the pure good of their hearts. All that is different in China is probably this type of infrastructure. Nothing more or less.

You think like a ReThuglican Jew (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893368)

You think like a ReThuglican Jew

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893370)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational

Actually, it is a bit more ideological (fallow party lines) than most industrialized nations. Then I got to here

and what you get are fat, happy citizens

and then I just started laughing. Your analogy fails, but then after reading your name I suddenly stopped hearing this strange "WOOSH" sound.

Re:Ever done business in China? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893378)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational.

LOL! Just two stories down we got another news on worker extortion in the USofA! And you imply the lack of ethics as a completely Chinese thing.

Have you ever did business with American companies? Verizon? Sony Music? Hello, anyone paying attention?

Perhaps what you really meant was those Chinese researcher should be smarter and did their con job in the financial market instead? Then they could become billionaires and live a good life for a decade or two like Madoff did, rather than being caught AND didn't got much money to begin with.

Re:Ever done business in China? (3, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893856)

In one instance you have worker extortion in the US where the employers (who I understand are from India) are caught and will be punished. On the other you have Chinese scientists who have successfully lied to the international science community in 60 of their papers and will not be punished in any way.

"like Madoff did, rather than being caught"

Are you from some kind of parallel universe? Madoff is doing jail time.

Also, and this is the most important point. Why is it just because America has some issues you think that the Chinese should get a free pass to do even worse things without punishment. What the hell is wrong with you?

Re:faking credentials.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893382)

Chinese competition is making it difficult for all the rest of us honest cheats. Seriously. How do you expect to compete when your faked diploma & artfully contrived CV accompanied by an equally worthless motivation letter can be copied by any consumables-hungry chinese worker? We might have to start validating this information...

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893646)

The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely fictional .

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Ever done business in China? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893694)

Sorry to reply to your mail again :)

I just noticed this story is now tagged "chinasucks"... oh well it's a US centric web site after all... too bad so many Americans have so rude ideas about this country.

China is a great country, with many great people. Of course not all is well there too - but to start saying things like "chinasucks" well that says more about the tagger than China.

I also often rile against the US (and at times also against China) but I won't say "ussucks". The government sucks maybe. Some companies suck. There sucks a lot. But for the rest like China I think the US is also a great country, with many great people.

The problem is that the US government sucks so badly that I don't feel like visiting. I've never been there, unfortunately. But with the current border checks it's as if entering a supermax prison. So sorry people but no thanks, later maybe.

so they don't want to police research... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893054)

but they police citizens, opinions, the media, the internet....

it's what I call:

contradiction

Re:so they don't want to police research... (1)

weirdo557 (959623) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893114)

now those scotch Koreans, that's what i call a contradiction.

Plagarize this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893058)

first post.

First post (0, Troll)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893060)

too

Re:First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893292)

Parent was on topic and ironic, but goes over mods head apparently.

Maybe they're not to blame. (2, Insightful)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893088)

Perhaps the scientist's cheating is a response to their government's insane minimum requirements for the number of publications a scientist with a government grant must have.

If working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, is not enough to meet the requirements from the only funding available, what should they do? Give up and sell hot-dogs in wallstreet?

I don't know, though. This is just a hypothesis.

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893104)

This is just a hypothesis.

Based on what?

government's insane minimum requirements for the number of publications a scientist with a government grant must have.

Do you have any information to back up this assertion?

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893162)

No, which is why I called it a hypothesis and not a theory, which would require some sort of a proof.

That aside, I'm a grad student in science and I know what grants are based on. It's not on your potential prowess, but on your record of published articles (and of course an interesting research proposal). No articles, no grant.

Of course it doesn't go to the extremes. People don't lie just to get a grant. But if you consider China's rush to expand in every front, it wouldn't be unthinkable that their requirements are much insaner than they are here.

Then again, it's just a hypothesis.

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (4, Informative)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893276)

Let's clear this up...

In China, the government grants are almost entirely political, and you're not fighting for tenure; tenure doesn't exist. Likely, you get your grants through your department head (who goes on all your papers). Essentially, your job is like a western stock trader. You have a job at the University, and maybe it pays well, maybe it doesn't. You get paid a bonus based on papers you publish. The higher the index of the journal you publish in, the higher your bonus. Those bonuses make up the majority of the salary for many scientists.

Unlike in the west, if you're caught cheating, there are no automatic, immediate consequences. It's very much like stock trading here, with similar ethics and results.

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893172)

You're doing it wrong.

{{Citation needed}}

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893180)

It's freaking China, man. It ought to be at least that bad.

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (5, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893344)

Do you have any information to back up this assertion?

Yeah, there was this study in this Chinese journal...

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (4, Informative)

robotkid (681905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893362)

Perhaps the scientist's cheating is a response to their government's insane minimum requirements for the number of publications a scientist with a government grant must have. I don't know, though. This is just a hypothesis.

That's actually not too far off the mark. The official salary of any government researcher is, well, well below what someone of equivalent schooling could have gotten in business or IT (as in most countries, only moreso). However, the government is pumping major sums of money at institutions that publish frequently, such that most researchers are paid hefty bonuses on a "per publication" basis by their home institution, usually a smaller amount for chinese-language journals and more for international journals, and a mega-bonus for high-profile journals.

The bottom line is that you can become comfortable middle class by pumping out as many publications in the most obscure international journal that you can break the entry barrier into. You can become very comfortable indeed if you actually start cooking the data and publishing only in journals you doubt will ever fact-check your data (for example, a journal run by your buddy down the hall). And short of the journals getting wise to you, there is virtually no chance of being caught if you are careful - you simply choose your fake results to be just-interesting-enough to be publishable while not notable enough to garner any widespread attention. In all but the highest-tier journals, the peer review is under no obligation to also serve as fraud detection. Peer reviewers are anonymous, unpaid volunteers who are asked to assess if the presented data warrant the arrived-at conclusions, the system simply could not operate if we had to assume every submitted paper could be a carefully planted fake.

In the US, the people who give you your grants work for some large federal agency that would start going over everything you have ever written with a fine-toothed comb at the first whisper of faked data. In China, the grant managers are often employees of the same institution that you work at, so there are all sorts of disincentives to proactively look for fraud.

But just because the system is skewed this way doesn't mean they should be let off the hook by any means. Fake science is so much worse than no-science because it often forces others in the same field to have to expend scarce resources to identify, reproduce, and discredit it. And as the Central Government shifts to aiming for quality over quantity, they will have to pay the price sooner and crack down on massive fraud, or risk exclusion from the very same international scientific communities they hope to impress.

Re:Maybe they're not to blame. (5, Interesting)

saihung (19097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893524)

Post-doc biologists at Harvard have to publish 70 papers in 7 years (if memory serves) to even qualify for a junior faculty position. There's no way that a scientist can publish ten papers per year that are worth jack squat, and the result is that most of the papers coming out of Harvard are garbage that get published because of where they come from. This isn't a China-only problem.

not just crystal structures (4, Funny)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893106)

Some of the Gucci handbags they make are not so authentic either.

Re:not just crystal structures (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893142)

Some of the Gucci handbags they make are not so authentic either.

But I just love my Chinese Relox watch.

Re:not just crystal structures (2, Funny)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893206)

Was that not Lolex?

Maybe they'll learn their lesson (5, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893128)

Listen, I think the more science that happens, the better. And I completely support Chinese scientists attempting to make China a science powerhouse.

But at the moment they have no real reason to self-police. If the reputation cost to a journal of accepting a Chinese paper is too high (if fabrication is too rampant), they'll reject them out-of-hand to protect their reputation. Then, the legitimate scientists in China will need to kick some ass in their academia in order to be let back in.

Whether it's factories selling the latest iPod design for cheap knockoffs, or faked research, China has been playing fast and loose with the rules of international relations. They're with the big boys now, for better or worse, and people are starting to not excuse them for it.

Re:Maybe they'll learn their lesson (0, Troll)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893158)

Have you ever noticed that a lot of "sensational fossil finds" come from China? Alan Feduccia pointed out years ago that fake Chinese fossils are a whole industry.

Re:Maybe they'll learn their lesson (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893422)

"Alan Feduccia pointed out years ago that fake Chinese fossils are a whole industry."

No, he has not.

He has *disagreed* with the interpretations of some of them with regards to the dinosaur/bird hypothesis, but he has not called them fake.

However, he is a darling of the IDers and Creationists because he represents some sort of "controversy," which is unfortunate.

And that is all I'm going to say on this. I have learned not to discuss evolution with creationists/IDers.

--
BMO

Re:Maybe they'll learn their lesson (2, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893200)

You don't see the risk of reputable journals passing over legitimate research because it comes from China?

This could be the worst thing for science in China, and pretty terrible for science in general (imagine the split it could cause). Academic integrity should be bottom-up because fact checking from the top (from a journal's perspective) is often impossible.

Re:Maybe they'll learn their lesson (2, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893386)

China loves fakes.

Examples: fake Rolex watches, fake LV hand bags, fake jewelery (both as in copied design or fake gold/diamonds/gemstones), fake eggs (no kidding here - they appeared on the market in Hong Kong), fake medicine (featuring well-known brands on the packing but at best just a placebo and at worst a deadly poison), and fake beauty in their "miss plastic surgery" pageants.

Mainlanders come in droves to Hong Kong to buy genuine hand bags, watches, jewelery, milk powder, medicine, and more. At least in Hong Kong you can be reasonably sure it's the real thing, while in Mainland you're better off assuming it's a fake.

hopefully (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893406)

Yes, the journals should start mostly ignoring articles from academics in China, very little alternative, journals simply cannot fact check every article. I'd imagine China's strongest academics would still publish once their papers were referred to the journal by a respected western academic, but that'll hopefully stay rare.

Re:Maybe they'll learn their lesson (4, Interesting)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893550)

Agreed 100%. The problem is that this is China we are talking about. A few years back here on Slashdot I likened the .cn ccTLD to a sewer due to the rampant abuse by spammers, port scans other attacks coming from their IP space and so on. The response from many admins was to blackhole the .cn domain and China's IP space en masse, something I predicted would come back to haunt them as more and more Chinese business tried to establish ties with the West and were unable to connect. I guess the Chinese government must have finally realised that too, because they have just implemented a completely draconian set of restrictions to .cn domain registrations that have seen several resellers stop selling sub-domains in .cn altogether.

Give it a couple of years and I suspect that we'll probably see a similar crackdown happen with the publishing of scientific papers in an attempt to rescue the reputation of Chinese science from whichever gutter it's languishing in by then. Chances are it will be just as draconian as with the .cn domain registrations, and equally likely that it will be far too late for at least some of the scientic journals that got their fingers burnt in the mean time.

It's not even a matter of the big boys (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893692)

When you are dealing with science, if you want results, you have to do it right. Science is a process of knowing about the natural world. When done right, it allows us to separate things that are probably true from things that are probably false better than anything else. As such, we discover new things and develop new technologies to make our lives better.

However, that only work when you do it right. If you just make shit up, your results are worthless. After all I can write up a study that shows I have psychic powers. I can have mountains of fabricated data to support that. However, that won't do anything to actually give me any psychic powers.

So, while individually the faked up research may do well for the scientist in question, getting them a better job and so on, nationally it'll set China back. Their fake research won't generate real results when you get down to it.

As Feynman said "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." This was with regards to the Colombia disaster. Here was a case of faking up the science to support the conclusion that was wanted, which was that things were safe. Well, all that was for naught, as the reality was it was NOT safe and blew the fuck up.

Same deal with any science. If a Chinese scientist fakes results on a study of a silicon doping technology to allow for smaller transistors, and a Chinese fab then tries to build equipment based on it, it won't work. Doesn't matter that there was a paper saying it would, if the research isn't true, it doesn't help. The laws of physics are what they are, we can't change them. All we can do is understand them. If our understanding is wrong, well then tough shit for us, our stuff won't work like we predict.

The result of asking for quantity over quality... (5, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893154)

As discussed here many times before (this is not new): Chinese scientists are judged by number of publications, just that. Just the number. As a result a PhD student will do their best to pump out as many papers as possible, as the more they manage to get published the better future career prospects they have.

The quality of the papers is simply not taken into account when it comes to job offers.

And then this is the obvious result. Lots and lots of papers, with little to no really new information, and on top of that a lot of made-up stuff by the ones that really have nothing new but still need the numbers.

Re:The result of asking for quantity over quality. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893428)

Good. Let them put up a farce about a major facet of the image they project to the outside world. The Soviets did that, and look where they wound up.

Re:The result of asking for quantity over quality. (1)

muecksteiner (102093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893782)

Right, so how is this different from most of Western Academia? After all, the only way to get a professorship here is to publish as many papers as possible. Screw the quality of whatever it is you are doing, and how you got your name on most of the papers in your CV. After all, your work will be judged by people outside your own field of work, so all they'll end up doing is counting papers.

There might be some weak taboo here in the West that You Shall Not Be Caught Cheating, but that is as far as I would put the differences between what the article describes, and what is going on over here.

Just my 0.2$E-32

A.

Fake Science for the Money Money Money Money$ (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893186)

In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated, and expressing amazement that a fake crystal structure would be submitted for publication.

The problem isn't just with China. The real issue is how and why journals would even be accepting fake "scientific research" to be published. So many cultured and educated people complain about Wikipedia having lax standards because you don't need a PhD to contribute.

The whole "scientific" publishing business are just ivory tower elites making money off of their diplomas and the authority that it bestows. Real science is done through allowing free access to data sets and experimental methods to the public so that research results can be reproduced. Fake science is relying on the personal authority of a PhD. or editorial board to decide what is real.

Re:Fake Science for the Money Money Money Money$ (4, Insightful)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893262)

Real science is done through allowing free access to data sets and experimental methods to the public so that research results can be reproduced. Fake science is relying on the personal authority of a PhD. or editorial board to decide what is real.

Fake science can supply fake data sets and experimental methods. The problem happens when someone takes those results on faith rather than trying to reproduce them. What do you expect the journals to do about it? They can't run a reproduction of every experiment. All they can do is apply a "yeah, sounds reasonable" test, using their Ph.D.s and editorial boards to decide whether something is real. Other than that, all they can do is assume the truth will come out eventually.

Science needs to be verified by peer specialists, via the specialist journals or boards, before making it to the big journals. That's all that can be done on the publication side of things.

Re:Fake Science for the Money Money Money Money$ (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893474)

The journal "Synthesis" only publishes procedures that have been independantly verified. It's used as a gold standard for reaction conditions. If the chemistry you want to do is in Synthesis, you're sorted. Problem is, it's also very elite and very expensive. It'll always be possible to publish fraudulent data in a mediocre journal.

Chinese students - inside vs outside China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893232)

"AP reports that plagiarizing or faking results is so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China's efforts to become a leader in science."

I know a Chinese student who works hard, but there comes nothing original from him. But, as he is so afraid of displeasing his supervisor I cannot think he would ever dare. However, this is not inside China. I can imagine it is worse inside China, as their quest for "winning" over the West, and the USA in particular, is enormous.

What is China to do? (4, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893252)

Post ww2 it was a mess. By the 1960's it was a real North Korea, no food, cook your neighbour mess.
Then China made a deal with Nixon and they joined the rest of the world again.
Be like EU/UK/US and let your scientists have the freedom to raise cash, be funded, fail, dream and work on projects for decades. China did not have the time.
Go Soviet and steal everything in easy reach and then steal some more. Long term your not trusted and are always a gen behind.
So China flooded the west with grad students to suck up the 'how to study' feel and report back.
Slave wages at home saw an influx of hi tech production lines too.
No big brands to push quality, no quality control, no political/science long term reality.
Just toxic production lines and a flow back of quality tech from the US.
What stays at home and is not in the mil, is useless, expensive, sheltered, protected and politically unstable.
Study hard, publish papers, get good flat, join Party, get rich quick does not produce a good long term results.
The Party knows this but rapid, cheap, lifestyles buys the party a few decades.
Decades to build national brands and sell quality to the world on slave wages.
China has its best in Africa, the US, learning, understanding, extracting and building.
The raw materials and know how have to come together to create wealth.
Papers in international journals is just PR and jobs at home while the real work is been done.

tro7L (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893278)

to use the GNAA under th3 GPL. O7 an admittedly These early

But (2, Insightful)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893282)

how can we trust the results of this article?

Academic scrutiny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893288)

China could learn from the USSR/Russia, where higher degrees (doctorates etc) need to be vetted by the central government (Higher Attestation Committee). China really should know better given that Academic Prestige -> State Power.

That and Confucius should really be brought out of the woodwork (probably even more than what they are already doing) and socially elevate scientists and hold them to higher moral standards, again like the USSR.

bad guy? (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893328)

Well, the authorities don't mind being the bad guy when they restrict internet access.

Translate the Symphony of Science? (4, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893396)

I wonder what happened to those two profs from Jian who sent in all those fabricated crystal papers.

Sadly, although I am looking to do business in China in the future, I have come across many anecdotes from people who tell me it is very dangerous.
- Someone I know well lost millions due to Chinese side refusing to pay for computer equipment sold
- One firm in Hong Kong told me mainland companies prefer to hire their CFOs from Hong Kong because they are seen as being more trustworthy
- Several companies that had focused on China, leaving it and heading to Japan, due to difficulty in finding trustworthy partners.

I think China has reached a point where cheating in one way or another is limiting its growth potential severely. The main factor in considering a project in China is how not to get screwed. This is not a theory I made up, but actually what has come up in discussions about 2 different companies who have asked me to sell their products in China.

The news articles attached suggest that academia is also completely ridden with cheating unfortunately. I can't see that the country will be able to get anywhere in the future without a sweeping change. I don't think it is a matter of imprisoning or killing academics like China has done with financial or government people in the past. The only idea I have is for someone to give John Boswell a grant to translate the Symphony of Science [symphonyofscience.com] videos into Chinese. This could be mandatory viewing for all academics, and the leaders of universities would be required to institute programs for instilling a new culture of honesty in students and having papers tested before they leave the university. Another idea is to create a bilingual (Chinese-English) transparency website that can be used to discover cheating authors and to also post what happened to them when they were discovered.

The attempt would be to supplant this supposedly celebrated part of Chinese culture and redirect the energy into an understanding of what science is really about. Clearly, you cannot perceive the wonder, or make great contributions, if you cheat. The linked articles suggest that this understanding is not yet mainstream in China, or is too overshadowed by the economic chaos.

Re:Translate the Symphony of Science? (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893724)

I don't know that the Symphony of Science will help. It isn't a problem with the scientists as you've pointed out, it is a general cultural problem. The current culture in China is one that is very short sighted. You do what is good for you now, and don't worry about what comes later. Well, that kind of attitude can lead to some real problems, as our recent economic downturn did a good job showing. However in China it is very much a national attitude like that and it really permeates all facets of life. So to think that the academia would be any better isn't likely.

What is needed is just for the government and the citizens to start to realize there are long term consequences to their actions and get a bit more perspective. That will probably happen, one way or another, as many of the short sighted things they do are slowly starting to bite them in the ass and this will only increase. However until that understanding start to become more commonplace, I don't think you'll see any improvement in academia.

China is fine.... (1, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893402)

India, however, is much, much worse.

Poles melting soon, anyone...?

Re:China is fine.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893654)

Poles melting soon, anyone...?

Referring to a recent plane crash, or what..? </tasteless>

Re:China is fine.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893906)

There is plagiarism in India as well, but I wouldn't consider it worse than in China. Chinese industry has had a reputation for making fakes - and this is a long standing reputation. India doesn't have such a strong reputation for plagiarism and faking stuff. Also, the indian legal system is far friendlier to foreign entities than the chinese system.

It's not just culture (1, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893436)

I'm not going to argue for or against the cultural component to the problem - but I do think there are parallels between modern China and the United States around 1900. The big industrialists are king, and the government is more concerned with keeping those rich entrepreneurs happy than with bothering them about pesky laws. It's really a "wild west" sort of mentality.

I expect that a decade or two having to deal with the rest of the industrialized world will largely straighten this out, whether the root is cultural or just newness to capitalism (or some amalgam of the two, which I think is probably the most likely).

Re:It's not just culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893526)

newness to capitalism? China has had a standardized money economy and small-scale capitalism for longer than the West.

I can see that you're trying to give them the benefit of the doubt since you don't know much about their history. But, people were pointing out the flaws of capitalism in the West ever since it started. Don't excuse cheaters for cheating.

Anyone has been reading 1984 lately? (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893500)

China is a highly authoritarian regime, no surprises that their equivalent of the ministry of truth is DoublePlusCooking the results :D

What else is new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893502)

China, home of the counterfeit milk, pet food, and luxury designer brands. Gee you think that there might be a problem with China's lack of standards.

expected solution (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893766)

People who cheat will get executed.

It's pretty normal for serious corporate or political wrongdoing already.

I LOL'ed by accident (0, Offtopic)

ericvids (227598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893876)

said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University

"Peke" in my native language (filipino) is our rough translation for "fake".

It was hard to keep my face straight when I read the name of that university.

Compare with Soviet science (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893894)

It seems that science coming from the old Soviet Union was top notch by comparison. Although there were some egregious cases (such as with Lysenkoism) of ideologically-driven suppression of science, overall it seems that Soviet scientists were very well respected by their international peers, most especially in mathematics and physics. Their scientists received several Nobel Prizes, whereas the it seems that the People's Republic of China doesn't actually have even one: none of the four Nobel Laureates of Chinese descent did the work which won them their prizes while they were in China, under the Chinese system of scientific research, and all of them, ironically, had at some point become citizens of the United States. Compare this with the Soviet prize winners, all of whom worked under the auspices of the Soviet scientific research institutes when they did their prize-winning work.

The Soviet experience shows that a repressive, totalitarian society is still able to produce cutting-edge science, so the fact that China is doing so badly in this area probably has nothing to do with their form of government. You might say that if they really wanted to be a scientific and research powerhouse they're doing it wrong. They might look to how the USSR did its work in the Cold War years if they wanted a "socialist" model on how to do science so as to be respected internationally.

'The authorities don't want to be the bad guy.' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893900)

'The authorities don't want to be the bad guy.'

Really? That's such an ironic thing to say of the chinese authorities...

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