Contemporary China Centre Blog » The Hidden Language Policy of China’s Research Evaluation Reform

“In February, China’s Ministries of Education and of Science and Technology released two documents that reshaped the research landscape: “Some Suggestions on Standardizing the Use of SCI Paper Indexes” and “Some Measures to Eliminate the Bad Orientation of ‘Papers Only’.” Elaborating the academic reform that President Xi has pursued since 2016, they provide the first detailed steps for dramatically reducing the role of the Science Citation Index (SCI) in evaluating Chinese research….

For twenty years, the SCI—a prestige listing of “high impact” scientific journals—controlled the careers of Chinese researchers. It and various derived indices are commonly used for university rankings and research evaluation (the UK, for example, uses SCI-derived data to allocate funding), but China relied on the SCI to an unusual degree. There, quotas for publishing in SCI journals governed hiring and advancement, pay bonuses, and even graduation from doctoral programs. In using the SCI as a “gold standard,” Chinese administrators sought to increase productivity, enhance national prestige, and benchmark the closure of gaps between China’s research sector and cutting-edge work internationally.

To a significant extent, these goals have been met. China has risen rapidly up international rankings, and Chinese research productivity routinely exceeds the world average (Li & Wang, 2019). Since 2016, China has been the world’s largest producer of published research, accounting for over a third of all global activity (Xie & Freeman, 2018, p. 2). …

So why change a winning formula? The Ministries’ announcements have focused on eliminating perverse incentives created by over-reliance on the SCI, which saw researchers prioritizing quantity over quality, nepotistically inflating citation counts, and falling prey to predatory journals. The Chinese government has, accordingly, allocated tens of millions of dollars to initiatives for improving Chinese journal quality and combating corrupt publishing practices. At the same time, commentators have noted the potential cost savings of de-centering SCI metrics….”

Digital Humanities Research Platform

“The Academia Sinica Digital Humanities Research Platform develops digital tools to meet the demands of humanities research, assisting scholars in upgrading the quality of their research. We hope to integrate researchers, research data, and research tools to broaden the scope of research and cut down research time. The Platform provides a comprehensive research environment with cloud computing services, offering all the data and tools scholars require. Researchers can upload texts and authority files, or use others’ open texts and authority files available on the platform. Authority terms possess both manual and automatic text tagging functions, and can be hierarchically categorized. Once text tagging is complete, you can calculate authority term and N-gram statistics, or conduct term co-occurrence analysis, and then present results through data visualization methods such as statistical charts, word clouds, social analysis graphs, and maps. Furthermore, Boolean search, word proximity search, and statistical filtering, enabling researchers to easily carry out textual analysis.”

Research data management policy and practice in Chinese university libraries – Huang – – Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  On April 2, 2018, the State Council of China formally released a national Research Data Management (RDM) policy “Measures for Managing Scientific Data”. In this context and given that university libraries have played an important role in supporting RDM at an institutional level in North America, Europe, and Australasia, the aim of this article is to explore the current status of RDM in Chinese universities, in particular how university libraries have been involved in taking the agenda forward. This article uses a mixed?methods data collection approach and draws on a website analysis of university policies and services; a questionnaire for university librarians; and semi?structured interviews. Findings indicate that Research Data Service at a local level in Chinese Universities are in their infancy. There is more evidence of activity in developing data repositories than support services. There is little development of local policy. Among the explanations of this may be the existence of a national?level infrastructure for some subject disciplines, the lack of professionalization of librarianship, and the relatively weak resonance of openness as an idea in the Chinese context.


China blocks Wikimedia Foundation’s application to become an observer at WIPO | Knowledge Ecology International

“On Wednesday, 23 September 2020, China blocked Wikimedia Foundation’s application to become an observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)….

[China said,] There is reason to believe that this foundation has been carrying out political activities through its member organizations which could undermine the state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, therefore, it is not fitting for the foundation to serve as an observer to this professional organization….”

Gaps in Academic Communication – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Recently I saw a LinkedIn advertisement looking for Chinese speaking Associate Editors for the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). I approached Dominic Mitchell who posted the message, and suggested he post a message on Chinese social media. The next day I noticed a post in Chinese by the DOAJ WeChat account, and shared it with my network of STM publishers. There was immediate interest, and issues. The application form was a Google Doc which cannot be opened by Chinese users since Google does not have a license to operate in China. Realizing that this could be a problem, the DOAJ post offered a Word file, available for download from a Google Drive account which was still inaccessible to Chinese users….

A few weeks ago, an old document from a double-first-class university in south China triggered a lot of discussion among researchers and publishers. This internal document states that, “starting from January 1, 2019, papers published in open access journals will not be recognized by the university” in performance evaluation. It was rumored that at least one other top-100 university has the same regulation. As incredible as it sounds, this reflects the perception of open access by many Chinese researchers and publishers. Twenty years ago, the same skepticism on open access publications was not uncommon in the West, but it remains surprisingly prevalent in China.

I also often encounter a lack of interest in open access from Chinese STM publishers, which is perplexing considering how hot this topic has been in the West. I attribute this to the uncommercialized status of STM publishing in China. The majority of journals are fully funded and published by universities or research institutes. Reputation and quality have always been placed above all other metrics, and the business side is much less of a concern. This attitude towards open access is changing slowly. From 2016 to 2019, the total number of open access papers published by Chinese authors in gold or hybrid journals has more than doubled, and the percentage of these papers among all papers by Chinese authors increased by 1-2% every year, to 24% in 2019 (source of data: Dimensions). Meanwhile there is more and more vocal support of open access, so it could be just a matter of time until China fully embraces it….”

IPLC Launches the Greater China Archival Resources Web Archive – Ivy Plus Libraries

“The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation is pleased to announce the launch of the Greater China Archival Resources Web Archive.

One of the hurdles researchers of modern and contemporary China face in their studies is knowing about, and having access to, archival collections held at Chinese archives. The Greater China Archival Resources Web Archive collects websites belonging to established, physical archives and learned archival societies located in the Greater China region, and archival projects from or about the Greater China region. Under the Chinese government, local archives administratively operate under the guidance of the local archival bureaus which themselves are part of local government and responsible for archival management for entire geographical areas. Therefore, the information available on the websites not only covers the collections that are held in each of the physical archives, but also includes policies, news, reports, research articles, and publications that are related to archival management in respective provinces, cities, or countries. Curated by librarians within the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation, the Archive aims to provide stable reference to the born-digital content originating from Chinese archives for future access, and attempts to capture the changes of these websites over time, thus documenting political change in China….”

Labour of Love: An Open Access Manifesto for Freedom, Integrity, and Creativity in the Humanities and Interpretive Social Sciences · Commonplace

“The undersigned are a group of scholar-publishers based in the humanities and social sciences who are questioning the fairness and scientific tenability of a system of scholarly communication dominated by large commercial publishers. With this manifesto we wish to repoliticise Open Access to challenge existing rapacious practices in academic publishing—namely, often invisible and unremunerated labour, toxic hierarchies of academic prestige, and a bureaucratic ethos that stifles experimentation—and to bear witness to the indifference they are predicated upon….

What can we, as researchers, do? We can reinvigorate ties with journals published by scholarly societies. We can act creatively to reclaim ownership over the free labour that we mindlessly offer to commercial actors. We can conjure digital infrastructures (think of platforms from OJS to Janeway, PubPub, and beyond) that operate in the service of the knowledge commons. Scholar-led OA publishing has the power to bypass gatekeeping institutions, bridge the knowledge gap produced by commercially driven censorship, and provide support to homegrown digital activism in countries where access to scholarship is restricted. All of this, without neglecting scholarly institutions such as a constructive peer review process or other forms of consensus-building and quality assurance proper to the humanities and interpretive social sciences….”

Chinese researchers’ perceptions and use of open access journals: Results of an online questionnaire survey – Xu – 2020 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  This paper reports the results of a survey on Chinese researchers’ perceptions and use of open access journals (OAJs). A total of 381 Chinese researchers from different universities and disciplines were investigated through an online questionnaire survey in August and September 2018. The results showed that most Chinese researchers are familiar with and have positive attitude to OAJs. They know OAJs mainly through their peers, colleagues, and friends. PubMed Central, PLoS, and COAJ (China Open Access Journals) are the most well?known OAJ websites among Chinese researchers. As for use, most of the respondents read and cite OAJs frequently and have experience of publishing in OAJs. However, they strongly prefer to use OAJs indexed in reputable databases (e.g. Web of Science, WoS) when making publishing decisions. Significant differences can be seen among disciplines, with researchers in HSS areas using OAJs less frequently than researchers from other disciplines, although they have the same positive attitudes and are equally well informed about them. Younger researchers preferred to rely on prestigious institutions and authors when using OAJs.


For China’s ambitious research reforms to be successful, they will need to be supported by new research assessment infrastructures | Impact of Social Sciences

“A radical reform of research evaluation and funding in China was recently launched in two prescriptive policy documents published by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education. China now moves from a strong focus on Web of Science-based indicators towards a more balanced combination of qualitative and quantitative research evaluation, with one third of all publications to be oriented towards domestic journals. Universities are urged to implement the policy locally by the end of July at the latest. How to do it, and the possible consequences, have aroused intense discussion among Chinese academics and gained worldwide attention and debate. 

This change has not come out of the blue. In 2016, President Xi Jinping called for reform towards a more comprehensive evaluation system for individual researchers. Further, in 2018, a document issued by three ministries and two national central institutions specifically proposed moving away from the “Four only” phenomenon of  recognising and rewarding “only papers, only titles, only diplomas and only awards”….

Public Domain and misuse: some thoughts – Pagode

“An example of this, that particularly catched the attention of PAGODE – Europeana China because it relates to a Chinese cultural heritage item, has recently come to the stage: a beautiful image of a Chinese embroidered cloth (a so-called rank-badge) depicting a leopard, in PD from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, was recently used to illustrate the cover page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Journal, titled “Emerging infectious diseases”.

The Journal and CDC were immediately flooded with expressions of outrage and concern of many from the Asian-American community and beyond, at the inappropriate use of a Chinese work of art on the cover and tweet-posting of a journal issue devoted to scholarly articles on COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.

The power of imaging should not be underestimated, as the choice of this image in such a context may suggest an emphasis on animals in China as carriers of the disease, resulting in an unvoluntary but certainly irresponsible example of using a PD digital item. The sensitivity about associating the COVID-19 crisis straightforward with China is clearly understandable, especially in America in this moment of xenophobia concerns and protests; but the explaination of CDC cuts short, by stating this is all a misunderstanding, and simply confirming that the image was chosen just for decorative purposes, being a striking piece of art – as indeed it is. At the moment, no reaction is known from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts as the content holder of the misused digital image.

The entire story is deepened in an interesting article by Hyperallergic magazine….”

EDP Sciences – EDP Sciences and the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences conclude a significant agreement on article processing charges in support of open access

“EDP Sciences and the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NSLC) are pleased to announce the successful conclusion of an agreement on article processing charges (APCs) which enables all corresponding authors affiliated with eligible Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) academic institutes to publish open access, at a discounted rate, in a range of EDP Sciences journals.

The agreement applies to all fully open access or hybrid journals published by EDP Sciences. Upon submission, corresponding authors of eligible CAS academic institutes will be identified automatically and a 20% discount applied to their APC. Once published, their articles will be freely available in open access. APCs will also include the ‘Liberty APC’ which allows the corresponding author to decide the level of the charge (from 0 to 900 Euros) to which the 20% discount will then be applied….”

OUP agrees first Read & Publish deal in China | The Bookseller

“Oxford University Press and the National Science Library’s Chinese Academy of Science have announced a new Read & Publish agreement said to be the first of its kind in mainland China.

Covering 26 of the institutions of the Chinese Academy of Science, the three-year deal provides complete access to OUP’s journals collection for participating institutions and over the course of the deal will mean that an increasing amount of the research outputs produced by participating CAS researchers is published Open Access. …”

Oxford University Press and National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences agree first Read & Publish deal in China | Journals | Oxford Academic

“Oxford University Press (OUP) and the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NSLC) are pleased to announce a landmark new Read & Publish agreement, the first of its kind in Mainland China. 

Covering 26 of the institutions of CAS, the three-year deal is the first of its kind in China. It provides complete access to OUP’s prestigious journals collection for participating institutions and over the course of the deal will mean that an increasing amount of the research outputs produced by participating CAS researchers is published open access.  …”