My story in yesterday’s FT about the astonishing increase in China’s research output in recent years has stirred up a lively response through emails to me and on discussion groups such as Chinapol.
The most interesting question is whether the soaring output of scientific papers – a 64-fold increase since 1981 and five-fold rise since 1998 – has been matched by an improvement in quality.
Many people with experience of Chinese research seem to doubt it. Some people talk about shoddy, repetitive papers that just scrapes through the peer review process but will never inspire anyone.
A recent article in the journal Nature looked at one adverse effect of the relentless pressure in Chinese universities to publish more papers in “high-impact” journals: an apparent rise in academic fraud and plagiarism, as researchers cut corners and lowered their ethical standards.