Monday, January 23, 2012

One Chinese University Leader's Crusade against Misconduct in Science

Here's an excerpt from David Cyranoski's article in Nature:

[In his second big case, in mid-2010, the] editor-in-chief of a journal published by Springer contacted Yang to say that plagiarism and fabrication in an article from a ZJU researcher were so egregious that Springer was considering blocking all submissions from the university to its 2,000 science, technology and medicine journals. (Yang declines to name the researcher or editor.) “It put pressure on. We had to convince them that we could handle the case,” says Yang.

This time, Yang was ready. He dismissed the main scientist involved, and cut the salary and PhD-student allocation of the corresponding author. “Springer was satisfied,” says Yang.

Over the past two years, Yang says, he has dealt just as briskly with another 40 or so misconduct cases at the ZJU. More than 20 researchers have been found guilty of wrongdoing after discussion by the university administration. For the ten cases involving recent graduates, more than half lost their degrees. One sued the ZJU to overturn the ruling of plagiarism. She lost. If work done during your training is fraudulent, “your degree should be taken away”, says Yang firmly.

In cases involving faculty members, three had their employment terminated, four faced disciplinary action including a pay cut, and the rest were issued with public or internal warnings. Some have been temporarily forbidden from taking on PhD students.