The names and schools of academics who have committed serious misconduct could soon be disclosed, the Ministry of Science and Technology said on Thursday, after a physician was found to have fabricated his research data.
National Taiwan University Hospital attending physician Chen Kuen-feng (陳昆鋒) on Thursday was found to have fabricated data in 10 of his papers, pushing the ministry to immediately amend its Guidelines for Handling and Investigating Research Misconduct (學術倫理案件處理及審議要點) later that day.
The names, affiliated agencies and transgressions of researchers who are confirmed to have fabricated, falsified and plagiarized papers, or used illegal means to influence the scientific review of their papers, would be disclosed, the ministry said, adding that it might reveal perpetrators’ information in a news release or a monthly newsletter issued by its Office of Research Integrity.
A researcher found guilty of the misconduct mentioned above would have their right to apply for funding suspended for more than two years, it said.
Researchers who commit less serious misconduct, such as forgetting to specify citation sources, and are given a suspension of rights within two years would not have their details disclosed, the ministry said.
The new rule could take effect in one month, after the ministry completes its announcement procedures, it added.
More than 60 percent of the 180 research misconduct cases so far identified by the ministry are related to plagiarism, with most contraventions happening between 2006 and 2011, the ministry said, adding that it takes on average five years to identify a problematic paper.
Any single case of research misconduct would deal a heavy blow to domestic academia, Lee Yi-hsuan (李怡萱), a professor at National Yang-Ming University's Department of Physiology, said yesterday, but added that she did not know the details of Chen’s case.
Also a convener for the ministry's Morphological Medicine and Physiology division, Lee said researchers should remind themselves that they are pursuing truth.
Many international journals have also improved their paper review standards after unethical researches have been exposed, Lee said, adding that she would expect researchers to be more self-disciplined.
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The COVID-19 pandemic might not have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan, China, National Taiwan University College of Public Health professor Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. While many countries are experiencing second waves of COVID-19 infections, many are also lifting lockdowns to revive their economies, allowing travelers to cross national borders, Chen said. Academics have been questioning whether genetic mutations in the novel coronavirus in different countries have made it more infectious, he added. Academics from different backgrounds have conducted phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences, he said, adding that the studies can help scientists understand how the virus spread among