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China issues regulations for improving security and management of scientific data

China issues regulations for improving security and management of scientific data

According to a report
in China Daily, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China has issued
new regulations for improving the management, security, accuracy and openness
of scientific data.

In recent years, China has witnessed a massive growth
in scientific and technology research & development. According to
statistics compiled by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), China surpassed the
United States in terms of the total number of science publications for the first
time in 2016.

Further scientific development will depend on the availability
and sharing of large, reliable sets of scientific data.

However, China lacked a national-level regulation to govern
the data, and its management has lagged behind developed countries, according
to Ye Yujiang, director of the Ministry of Science and Technology's basic
research department, as quoted in the China Daily article.

He added that a lot of valuable data has not been fully utilised
by Chinese scientists and some has leaked to foreign countries.

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have issued
regulations since the late 1960s, to improve data protection and management, along
with encouraging the openness and increased use of scientific and governmental
information. 

These new measures are expected to enhance scientific and
technological innovation, economic and social development, and also state
security.

The regulations aim to clarify the responsibilities of
officials and scientists who regulate and use the information. With
regards to classified data, related to areas such as national defense, trade
secrets and personal privacy, China will strengthen security and enhance the
ability to track data leaks and erase lost data. 

According to the regulations, scientists will have to submit
data to relevant authorities for filing before publishing it in foreign science
journals. Scientific data sets will also be required to better identify their
origins and researchers, allowing clearer citations and stronger protection of
intellectual property (IP).  

"In some instances, a lot of valuable data has not been
fully utilised 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." 

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”. 

Though scientific output from China has grown significantly over
the past couple of decades, problems have been faced regarding data
and peer review fraud and hundreds of papers have been retracted (Recent example
here)
. Sometimes, third-party companies been involved in the fraud.  Last year, the Ministry of Science and
Technology (MOST)’s regulatory division subjected
400 researchers listed as authors on 107 retracted papers to strong disciplinary
action. 

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