Integrity in Biomedical Research: A Systematic Review of Studies in China

Science and Engineering Ethics 25 (4):1271-1301 (2019)
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Recent empirical evidence has demonstrated that research misconduct occurs to a substantial degree in biomedical research. It has been suggested that scientific integrity is also of concern in China, but this seems to be based largely on anecdotal evidence. We, therefore, sought to explore the Chinese situation, by making a systematic review of published empirical studies on biomedical research integrity in China. One of our purposes was also to summarize the existing body of research published in Chinese. We searched the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data, PubMed and Web of Science for potentially relevant studies, and included studies meeting our inclusion criteria, i.e. mainly those presenting empirically obtained data about the practice of research in China. All the data was extracted and synthesized using an inductive approach. Twenty-one studies were included for review. Two studies used qualitative methods and nineteen studies used quantitative methods. Studies involved mainly medical postgraduates and nurses and they investigated awareness, attitudes, perceptions and experiences of research integrity and misconduct. Most of the participants in these 21 studies reported that research integrity is of great importance and that they obey academic norms during their research. Nevertheless, the occurrence of research misbehaviors, such as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, improper authorship and duplicate submission was also reported. Strengthening research integrity training, developing the governance system and improving the scientific evaluation system were areas of particular attention in several studies. Our review demonstrates that a substantial number of articles have been devoted to research integrity in China, but only a few studies provide empirical evidence. With more safeguard measures of research integrity being taken in China, it would be crucial to conduct more research to explore researchers’ in-depth perceptions and evaluate the changes.



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