“Over the past month, my Chinese social media feeds have been flooded with news, discussions, and research papers about the COVID-19 virus. But earlier this week, all my contacts in the academic community were discussing two government documents.
The first one is called “Some Suggestions on Standardizing the Use of SCI Paper Indexes in Higher Educational Institutes and Establishing Correct Evaluation Orientation”, and the second one is “Some Measures to Eliminate the Bad Orientation of “Papers Only” in Science and Technology Evaluation (Trial)”. Essentially these two documents mark an effort to largely reform the research and higher education evaluation systems in China. The first document is a set of guidelines and the second, marked as a “trial”, contains many detailed regulations. Here are the key takeaways from these policy documents, which could potentially shift the landscape of global STM publishing, since China is now the world’s largest producer of scientific articles….
Currently, researchers, research teams, and organizations are required to supply lists of papers published in their applications for government grants and their reports on the results of those grants. Research papers have been a primary measuring stick used to determine funding and career advancement. Key considerations have been the quantity of papers produced, publishing those papers in journals listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI), and publishing in journals with high Journal Impact Factor (JIF) scores. Institutions in China have tailored their practices to meet these criteria, putting pressure on researchers to publish as many papers as possible.
The new policy states that publication of papers will only be used as a main evaluation indicator for basic science and technology research, and not for applied research and technological development. This removes the publication burden from clinicians and engineers and others working in more applied areas.
For the basic researchers, a “representative works” system will be used. Under this system, only a limited number of a researcher’s or an institution’s most important papers count. No less than one third of the representative papers must be published in domestic Chinese journals. The quantity of papers published and the JIFs of the journals that the representative works appear in are not going to be used as a measurement for performance or research ability….”