Higher Education Push Hinders Academic Collaboration

In their efforts to boost rankings and achieve world-class status, many Chinese universities have implemented hiring and publishing policies that risk undermining collegiality among faculty members. From John Anthony Pella Jr. and Li Wang from Zhejiang University in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The high value placed on foreign degrees has shaken up the job market. It has become easier for foreign-trained Chinese scholars to return home and get jobs at prestigious universities; and non-Chinese academics have an even easier time. By contrast, the chance for a domestically trained scholar to work at a prestigious university is dwindling, even if they get their doctorate from one of China’s top institutions.

[…] As part of this push to become world-class, the universities and education officials are also reinforcing a “publish or perish” mentality. Chinese universities are attempting to improve their standing in global university rankings rapidly. To do so, they are trying to improve the research areas that the rankings rely on. For publishing, this means that articles in Thomson Citation Index-listed journals are encouraged above all else—in fact, no other international indexes are even considered or recognized, and such language is written into faculty contracts. In consequence, book publishing is considered unimportant and is even openly discouraged in faculty discussions.

There are various policies in place to persuade faculty to submit exclusively to such outlets, the most obvious being financial rewards for successful publication. Most universities will pay between 5,000 and 10,000 RMB (or 750 and 1,500 USD) per article. Importantly, only the first author or corresponding author gets these financial benefits, and this effectively persuades colleagues not to work together. [Source]

See also how China’s top institutions fare in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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