The Economist reports that China’s strong focus on the number of papers a scholar publishes is encouraging academic dishonesty, including a vibrant market in ghostwritten articles and counterfeit journals to host them.
The most valuable statistic a scientist can tally up is SCI journal credits, especially in journals with higher “impact factors”—ones that are cited more frequently in other scholars’ papers. SCI credits and impact factors are used to judge candidates for doctorates, promotions, research grants and pay bonuses. Some ambitious professors amass SCI credits at an astounding pace. Mr Lin writes that a professor at Ningbo university, in south-east China, published 82 such papers in a three-year span. A hint of the relative weakness of these papers is found in the fact that China ranks just 14th in average citations per SCI paper, suggesting that many Chinese papers are rarely quoted by other scholars.
[…] The pirated medical-journal racket broken up in Beijing shows that there is a well-developed market for publication beyond the authentic SCI journals. The cost of placing an article in one of the counterfeit journals was up to $650, police said. Purchasing a fake article cost up to $250. Police said the racket had earned several million yuan ($500,000 or more) since 2009. Customers were typically medical researchers angling for promotion. [Source]