New regulations issued by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, earlier this week will improve the management, security, accuracy and openness of scientific data, officials said at a news conference on April 4.
The regulations, which were published on April 2, are intended to clarify the responsibilities of officials and scientists who regulate and use the information.
For classified data, such as that related to national defense, trade secrets and personal privacy, China will strengthen security and enhance the ability to track leaks and erase lost data.
“Scientific and research data are valuable strategic resources for a nation’s scientific and socioeconomic development,” Ye Yujiang, director of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s basic research department, said at the news conference. In recent years, China has seen major scientific development and explosive growth in the amount of scientific data. However, it has lacked a national-level regulation to govern the data, and its management has lagged behind developed countries, Ye said.
“In some instances, a lot of valuable data has not been fully utilized by Chinese scientists, and some has even leaked to foreign countries,” Ye said. “Data regulation has been a weak link in China’s effort to become a global technological powerhouse, so the new regulations are welcome remedies.”
Since the late 1960s, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have issued regulations to improve data protection and management, as well as to encourage openness and the use of scientific and governmental information.
Sun Jiulin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, said that “unlike scientific equipment, which is subject to wear and tear, scientific data can become more valuable over time and more useful as research methods and technologies improve”.
“A decade ago, Chinese scientists could not fully take advantage of the data collected because of technical limitations. Such was the case in geography and natural resources,” he said. “But now we are paying close attention to data generated both during and after projects, so that we can truly turn our data resources into a wealth of knowledge.”
Wang Ruidan, deputy director of the National Science and Technology Infrastructure Center, said China will continue to strengthen its national data center and its ability to aggregate data from various departments and local governments.
Scientists will have to submit data to relevant authorities for filing before publishing it in foreign science journals. Scientific data sets will also better identify their origins and researchers, allowing clearer citations and stronger protection of intellectual property, Wang said.