Don't fear failure, China tells scientists
Less than a month after blacklisting 13 academics for fraud, China is discussing an amendment to legislation that would encourage scientists to report more honestly about failed experiments, state news media said Tuesday.
Chinese lawmakers are discussing changes to the country's existing science and technology laws that would allow scientists and technicians to report failures in their work without risking future funding, the Xinhua news agency reported.
One amendment states: "Scientists and technicians who have initiated research with a high risk of failure will still have their expenses covered if they can provide evidence that they have tried their best when they failed to achieve their goals."
Bai Chunli, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua the move is designed to encourage innovation in an academic culture where fear of failure is ever-present.
"It's difficult to make achievements in independent innovation if the scientific research departments and scientists don't tolerate failures," Bai told Xinhua.
The government also hopes the loosening of expectations will lead to less fraud, a continuing problem in the country.
Earlier in August, the National Natural Science Foundation of China blacklisted 13 academics for fraud, in what Xinhua called the fourth round of "naming and shaming" since 2005.
Last year, Shanghai Jiaotong University dismissed Chen Jin, a former chair of the school's microelectronic department, after it was discovered he had faked research in the production of a series of computer chips.
A Ministry of Science study of 180 PhD candidates in China also published last year found 60 per cent admitted to plagiarizing and the same percentage admitted to taking bribes to have their work published.