隨著經濟一體化的到來和社會腐敗的大眾化，中國的學術打假，也已經提前實現了國際化。今年五月份世界最著名的學術期刊《自然》第四百四十一卷的一篇長篇新聞專題報道：名與辱（ＮＡＭＥＤ ＡＮＤ ＳＨＡＭＥＤ），就把中國目前學術打假的淵源和黑幕，捅出了亞洲，走向了世界：
Nature 441, 392-393 (25 May 2006) | doi:10.1038/441392a; Published online 24 May 2006; Corrected 2 June 2006
As accusations of scientific misconduct in China become rife, some fear persecution reminiscent of that used in the Cultural Revolution.
Chinese science risks being sliced up by a double-edged sword: rampant scientific misconduct on the one hand, and persecution based on false accusations on the other.
The lack of confidence in official mechanisms for properly investigating fraud has led to increased reliance on websites that challenge the records and publications of Chinese scientists. But many are concerned about the damage such untested allegations can cause; more than 100 Chinese scientists based in the United States have sent an open letter to the Chinese government, asking it to set up mechanisms to ensure that claims of scientific misconduct are investigated fairly.
China admits it faces a serious problem with scientific misconduct, including plagiarism, and the fabrication and falsification of data. The scale of the problem is unknown, but a recent spate of allegations has drawn attention to the issue.
In March, Hui Liu, the assistant dean of Tsinghua University medical school in Beijing, was fired, following claims that he had boosted his publication list with papers by another H. Liu (see Nature 440, 728; 2006). Liu has reportedly denied the charges and blamed the mix-up on a clerical error. In April, Sichuan University in Chengdu was criticized by the Chinese media for finding one of its professors innocent of fabricating a paper; the paper has been under attack since its publication in 2000. And two weeks ago, Jin Chen of Shanghai's Jiaotong University, whose announcements of one of China's first digital signal-processing chips in 2003 stoked patriotic fervour, was condemned by his university for faking research and stealing designs from a foreign company.
J. ANDANSON/SYGMA/CORBIS：Accusations of scientific fraud posted on websites remind some of the posters used to persecute 'government enemies' in the 1970s.
In all three cases, a popular Chinese-language website known as New Threads (http://www.xys.org), which has a reputation for disclosing scientific fraud in China, played a key role in fuelling public outcry.
In the first two cases, postings of the accusations on New Threads led to the Chinese media picking up on the stories. And the website's owner, Shi-min Fang, a biochemist based in San Diego, California, claims he was the first to post the name of the company that supposedly polished and re-labelled another brand's chips for Chen.
The power of the website to implicate scientists in the absence of adequate formal mechanisms of investigation has put it at the centre of concerns over claims of misconduct.
Xin-Yuan Fu, an immunologist at Indiana University in Indianapolis, says it was the Sichuan University case that drove him to write a letter to key science-policy officials, including China's science and technology minister and the head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, asking them to take action. The letter struck a chord among his peers — within five days of circulating it to other Chinese biologists based in the United States, Fu's letter had collected 120 signatures, including those of two researchers in China. "I was overwhelmed," says Fu.
After noting the need to expose all types of misconduct, the letter focuses on the problem of unfounded allegations, particularly those that attack scientific claims without giving evidence of faulty laboratory procedures. It ends by condemning the tendency to make "personal attacks anonymously in public... in the absence of proper investigation".
Fu says the Sichuan University incident is a case in point. Yuquan Wei, vice-president of the university, published a paper in Nature Medicine in 2000 detailing the use of foreign endothelial cells as a vaccine to prevent tumour growth. The paper claimed success in mice and suggested the technique could work in humans (Nature Med. 6, 1160–1166; 2000).
But Lusheng Si, an immunopathologist at Xi'an Jiaotong University who first came across the paper when reviewing a grant proposal by Wei in 2001, suspected that it contained fabricated data. On 26 March this year, after hearing that Wei was using the paper to request a further large grant, Si attacked the paper on New Threads.
The letter led to a media fury in China and an investigation by Wei's university. Sichuan concluded that Wei had committed no offence, and that the dispute over Wei's research was simply a run-of-the-mill academic disagreement. The media in China has continued to criticize Wei and Sichuan University, but many scientists think Si's attack was irresponsible and based on unsound interpretation of scientific concepts and procedures.
Si contends, for example, that the mouse immune system should respond to all proteins in foreign cells, whereas Wei's paper suggests that immunized mice selectively respond to a few antigens. "This violates a fundamental law of immunology," Si says.
AP：Fallen from fame: Jin Chen, creator of a signal-processing chip, was condemned by his university for faking data.
But Lieping Chen, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and a signatory to Fu's letter, disagrees with Si. Chen says that a selective immune response to one or a few foreign proteins is an aspect of well-known phenom–enon known as immunodominance.
Si also questions the number of mice Wei used, estimating this to be around 40,000. "This is too big to believe," he says. Wei, backed by Chen, says Si has miscalculated the number, and that less than 5,000 mice were actually used.
But even those who defend Wei admit that his response hasn't helped. For example, Si claims that Wei has so far refused to release his raw data, which most agree would settle the issue. Wei told Nature, "I did not say I cannot release raw data for inspection", but he has not clarified whether he will make his data available. He has denied all misconduct.
The university's investigation into the matter has failed to convince many that the truth won out, mainly because it lacked transparency. "The recent self-investigation into alleged fraud at Sichuan University is a total joke," says Mu-ming Poo, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and head of the Institute of Neurosciences in Shanghai. Nature's request for details on the university procedure and an introduction to members of the investigation committee was referred to Wei; as Nature went to press he had not provided any information about the investigation.
The recent self-investigation into alleged fraud at Sichuan University is a total joke.
Poo believes the incident is indicative of the fact that most Chinese universities lack the capacity to investigate one of their own. "The outcome is likely to be influenced by the university's own interests, such as protecting its reputation," he says.
Fu's letter, sent on 8 May, calls for greater involvement of higher-level funding bodies such as the science ministry, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).
These institutions already have investigatory bodies. The CAS established its ethics committee in 1997 and drafted guidelines in 2001. The NSFC committee, established in 1998, says it investigated 445 allegations of misconduct in its first five years (out of an estimated 30,000 projects that it funded during that time). In the most severe cases, the committee indefinitely blocks perpetrators from applying for funds.
But many scientists feel these committees are ineffective, and a lack of confidence in their ability to settle matters is driving those with grievances to publish them on the Internet. For example, Si says he considered sending his complaint to the CAS or to the science ministry, but he was unable to find contact details for either. So he posted his accusation on New Threads instead. Nature's attempts to contact the committees of the CAS and the NSFC were also unsuccessful.
"It is the [effective] absence of such formal mechanisms that makes New Threads important," says Fu. But Fu, a human-rights advocate, is worried that the media frenzy following irresponsible web-based accusations, particularly by those who don't identify themselves, hearkens back to China's 'big letter' posters or 'dazibao'.
These wall-mounted handwritten posters were used to persecute those considered enemies of the government during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. "Anyone could write anything, and people would read it and assume it was right," says Chen. "It would be a terrible thing to go through again, in academia."
There's been enough of this 'he said, she said' nonsense.
Fang, who has been widely praised since setting up his website in 2001 for exposing bad science and trying to raise the profile of research ethics in China, defends his postings. He says he only accepts about 10% of submitted letters, and that he only publishes allegations from correspondents who identify themselves to him. He adds that he does some preliminary investigation and sometimes asks outside experts for their opinions.
But several scientists have written to Nature to express concern over how powerful Fang's website has become, saying they are afraid to be named for fear of becoming his enemy.
Ideally, Fu says he would like to see China establish a new agency staffed by experts trained in scientific misconduct that could investigate claims of fraud, akin to the US Office of Research Integrity. That would certainly be necessary to resolve the case of Si versus Wei, says Nature Medicine's editor-in-chief Juan-Carlos Lopez. "There's been enough of this 'he said, she said' nonsense," says Lopez. "It's time for the competent authorities to get involved."
How likely that is to happen is unclear. Fu and his co-signatories have yet to receive any response from the Chinese authorities.
* The original version of this story placed Jin Chen at the wrong university. This has been corrected (1 June 2006). Correction (2 June 2006): Hui Liu was assistant dean of Tsinghua University medical school in Beijing, not vice-dean as originally stated in this article. In paragraph 6, we should not have referred to Jin Chen's company, but rather the company that supposedly does work for Chen.
Nature 441, 549-550 (1 June 2006) | doi:10.1038/441549b; Published online 31 May 2006
As Chinese research expands, who is looking out for faked results?
The investigation of research misconduct is always fraught with difficulty, even if the necessary protocols and experienced expert committees are fully in place. In China, they are not. If the nation is to get to grips with the problem of misconduct as it becomes a substantial scientific power, that situation has to change.
Chinese research agencies do have structures for investigating misconduct allegations, but in the absence of open discussion and independent press scrutiny, few researchers have much faith in them. The rapid and open exchange of information over the Internet has some potential to fill the void, but it also carries risks (see Nature 441, 392–393; 2006). It could readily break down into a dangerous game of unregulated accusation and counter-accusation, shedding no light on actual misconduct.
The power of the Internet in identifying scientific fraud was amply demonstrated last year in the case of Woo Suk Hwang, the discredited South Korean cloning researcher. Online portals discussed suspicious images and data in Hwang's papers, ultimately leading Seoul National University to pursue an investigation that exposed Hwang's fabrications. And Internet postings of allegations that Jin Chen faked digital-processing chips contributed to his dismissal from Shanghai Jiaotong University last month.
The Internet can play a particularly important role in countries such as China and South Korea that do not have adequate systems for investigating misconduct allegations. That isn't to say that countries with systems in place are totally on top of the problem, but at least they have developed some of the institutions and protocols needed to handle it.
Organizations charged with assessing allegations of scientific misconduct do exist in China, and on paper the system appears functional — but there is no evidence that it really works. China lacks an independent press to report on such matters. The very size of the country and subsequent disparate implementation of policies set in Beijing make matters worse.
In addition, the cultural importance of 'saving face' in Chinese society makes the full-frontal public attacks that tend to characterize Western misconduct allegations almost unthinkable. There are no effective provisions to protect whistleblowers, so it is hard to believe that anyone who observes misconduct would summon the courage to report it to the authorities.
There are no effective provisions to protect whistleblowers, so it is hard to believe that anyone observing misconduct would summon the courage to report it.
It is in this climate that New Threads, a Chinese-language Internet site run by a single researcher based in San Diego, has come to play a significant role in the monitoring of scientific conduct. This arrangement is deeply problematic, however.
In China's recent history, 'bottom up' accusations have often been abused by the authorities to persecute perceived enemies of the state. This was especially true during the Cultural Revolution, when simply pasting a poster on the wall calling someone a 'bourgeois' could destroy their livelihood. The threat of innocent people being branded as 'pseudoscientists', either by a jealous rival or by the state, further clouds the misconduct picture in China.
The only real solution to this problem is a great deal more complex than hooking up to an Internet connection. It requires the establishment of independent offices in Chinese research agencies, rather like the inspector general's office at the US National Science Foundation, or the Office of Research Integrity at the US health department. The system can only operate effectively if it offers protection to whistleblowers. It also requires a new generation of scientists to be educated in what constitutes proper scientific conduct. And it needs to ensure that investigations give anyone accused the opportunity to demonstrate their innocence.
China is struggling to come to terms with these kinds of requirements in society at large, as well as within the scientific community. For a multiplicity of reasons — of which the desire for scientific progress is just one — addressing them ought to be the government's greatest priority.
Nature 441, 932(22 June 2006) | doi:10.1038/441932a; Published online 21 June 2006
New Threads Chinese Cultural Society, PO Box 26194, San Diego, California 92196, USA
As the webmaster of New Threads (http://www.xys.org) — the website "at the centre of concerns over claims of misconduct", according to your Special Report "Named and shamed" (Nature 441, 392–393; 2006) — I cannot agree with your comment that "some fear persecution reminiscent of that used in the Cultural Revolution".
The Cultural Revolution was started by Chairman Mao in 1966 and formally ended with his death in 1976. Although 30 years have passed, the memory of this calamity is still vivid in many Chinese minds — it is understandable that some fear the tragedy might someday recur. But it is ridiculous to compare free speech on the Internet to the violence of the Cultural Revolution, which was controlled by a dictator, allowed for no freedom and included governmental persecution of 'class enemies'. I find it ironic that 120 Chinese-American scientists and self-appointed human-rights advocates have signed an open letter appealing to the Chinese government to suppress media and public opinions: they still need to learn what free speech and human rights mean.
I agree that China should establish an official channel to investigate allegations of misconduct. In fact, I made this suggestion as early as 2001, in a speech to the Chinese students and scholars association at the University of California, San Diego (see http://www.xys.org/xys/netters/Fang-Zhouzi/science/yanjiang.txt). But before this channel exists, and to make sure it functions properly after it is established, free press and free speech are indispensable.
Nature 441, 932(22 June 2006) | doi:10.1038/441932b; Published online 21 June 2006
Radiation Oncology Department, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Aurora, Colorado 80045, USA
Your Special Report (Nature 441, 392–393; 2006) and Editorial "Finding fraud in China" (Nature 441, 549–550; 2006) express deep concern about accusations of scientific misconduct in China. You rightly point out that it should be the government's greatest priority to crack down on scientific misconduct, if it is rife.
The New Threads website covers wide areas such as literature and popular science. It is well known for posting accusations of all types of scientific misconduct, and providing a forum for people to discuss their concerns. There are good reasons for the popularity of the website among intellectuals and the general public. It is the motivation of those condemning it that needs to be questioned.
It is misleading to suggest that high-profile researchers could be persecuted through accusations made against them on the Internet, or to compare this to the Cultural Revolution. I witnessed the violence of the Cultural Revolution in my childhood. My parents were abused by the Red Guard because of their family, education and professional background. I cried when I saw crosses marking their names in posters and cartoons.
The Cultural Revolution was a mass movement organized by the country's leader to crack down on his opponents. New Threads is just a platform without any official power: openness is the key to its success. It has become a portal for the grass roots who are ignored by official channels, such as university authorities, when they report misconduct. Internet debate and the resultant public attention can act as a warning to people attempting to violate research ethics. This is nothing like the horror of the Cultural Revolution.
Nature 442, 132(13 July 2006) | doi:10.1038/442132a; Published online 12 July 2006
700 Lower State Road, North Wales, Pennsylvania 19454, USA
Although China is developing its science and technology at an unprecedented speed, scientific misconduct is a serious issue, as you have highlighted in your Special Report "Named and shamed" (Nature 441, 392–393; 2006)
Shi-Min Fang, the webmaster of New Threads (http://www.xys.org), has defended, in Correspondence (Nature 441, 932; 2006), this website's role in disclosing scientific misconduct on occasions when the authorities have ignored whistleblowers.
Like many other Chinese scientists working overseas, I care very much about scientific misconduct in China. However, I have also been concerned for a long time about the quality of articles published on New Threads. Often, I find that there are few facts and little investigation behind the accusations, and that many articles are mixed with assumptions and personal attacks on named scientific researchers.
One such example is that of Hualiang Jiang, a principal investigator working at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica. Because I work in a similar field, I am familiar with Jiang's work and publications, although I have never met him. New Threads contains several articles (urls provided) attacking Jiang personally, using many insulting words such as "idiot". It seems that some of the articles were written by someone who may have been an unsuccessful job candidate at Jiang's institute.
Disclosing scientific misconduct is not simply about free speech, as claimed by Fang. It is also about being professional, objective and serious. Only verified facts should be published on the website, if it is claiming to monitor incidents of scientific misconduct. It should not be used for unsubstantiated attacks in the name of free speech, not only because of the personal and professional effects on the scientists concerned, but also because readers, especially young students, could be misled.
Nature 442, 132(13 July 2006) | doi:10.1038/442132b; Published online 12 July 2006
Department of Mechanics, College of Architecture and Environment, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610065, China
Your Special Report "Named and shamed" (Nature 441, 392–393; 2006) and Editorial "Finding fraud in China" (Nature 441, 549–550; 2006) report that scientific misconduct has become rampant in China, especially in universities. I would like to add my view to those of previous correspondents (Nature 441, 932; 2006).
Misconduct is hampering the sound development of science in the nation's higher-education system. If scientific misconduct cases are not handled by the university (or other concerned authority), and much-needed outside supervision is not available, then each occasion that comes to light damages the academic reputation of the university concerned, the whistleblower and the person accused.
Unfortunately, serious and justified investigations of suspected fraud have been largely ignored by China's universities, with the exceptions of the prestigious Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University, each of which has recently dismissed a professor (returned from abroad in each case) for fabricating research achievements or results. However, details of these investigations have not been disclosed, so other universities cannot learn from them.
Obviously, it is the university involved in a fraud case — not the Ministry of Education, the media, websites, journals or newspapers — that has the power to dismiss or demote the accused, if guilty. A mechanism is needed to deal with such eventualities.
To cope with embarrassing situations such as those currently being highlighted in the media, I suggest that editorials and articles on the subject in science journals such as Nature and Science should be used as materials for teaching a course of research ethics to students in China's universities. Access to case studies being taught in scientific ethics courses elsewhere would also be valuable. Our universities should play a key part in fighting scientific misconduct, and every honest Chinese professor should make a contribution to such courses as part of providing a complete university education.
Nature 442, 132(13 July 2006) | doi:10.1038/442132d; Published online 12 July 2006
Taipei Representative Office in the United Kingdom, 50 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0EB, UK
Nature 442, 244(20 July 2006) | doi:10.1038/442244c; Published online 19 July 2006
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, Alfred Denny Building, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
Michael Chen, in Correspondence (Nature 442, 132; 2006), raised a question about the colours used in a map with the News Feature "Forward planning" (Nature 440, 987–989; 2006). He was concerned that showing both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan as yellow would make people think that they comprised one country. However, all the countries shown as having proposed repositories for nuclear waste are coloured yellow, including Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom and France. This certainly does not mean that these pairs of neighbouring countries have been united into one.
According to the World Nuclear Association (http://www.world-nuclear.org), Taiwan has nuclear power reactors in operation, and therefore it should not be excluded from the issue discussed in the News Feature. I can see nothing wrong with the colours used in the map. Being simple and focused, it fulfilled its purpose.