China will continue to propose laws and regulations to further guide and manage research ethics and academic integrity, Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang said on March 11.
Relevant guidelines are necessary for scientists to be aware of their academic conduct, stick to the norms of scientific research and follow regulations when commercializing scientific achievements, he said.
“In this way academia can have more rational and respectful people. Those who disregard laws for the sake of personal fame and fortune should be regulated,” he said.
Wang said science and technology is a double-edged sword. For example, the development of artificial intelligence represents progress in the use of digital tools, but there are privacy concerns in the use of biometric identification. Gene-editing technology offers ways for humans to better understand themselves but raises debate.
Wang stressed the development of science and technology should be focused on fostering advantages while avoiding harms.
Scientific research and science commercialization require a strong sense of social responsibility and scientists should take into account all aspects, including morality, ethics, social responsibilities, academic conduct and laws when doing research or putting their achievements into practice, he said.
To build an innovative country, scientific literacy of members of the public also needs to be improved so they will form a natural tendency to discern and respect science and do more positive things in society, he said.
Research ethics and academic conduct have been a hot topic, after controversies that still loom over Chinese academia.
Scientist He Jiankui’s announcement to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies immune to HIV sparked international condemnation, and actor Zhai Tianlin was found to have committed plagiarism in his doctoral papers, which aroused public anger online.