China urges its researchers to share data
The proposal, announced last month by Xu Guanghua, China’s Minister of Science and Technology, includes creating a law to ensure that scientific information is communicated more widely, and co-ordinating efforts by government departments to develop information centres and databases to facilitate the communication of scientific and technological information.
"If China wants to become a major scientific and technological power in the world, it must increase the extent to which information is communicated between different research areas," Xu said.
At present, one of the difficulties facing Chinese researchers is that the circulation of data is often restricted to small and closed circles. According to Zhang Shougong, for example, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Forestry — and a delegate at the ongoing plenary meeting of the NPC that is being held from 5 to 18 March — this raises difficulty in forestry research because although different research institutes have collected large amounts of data, the observation and collection of certain data often take several years.
NPC delegates are suggesting that the proposed legislation should require research institutes to make their scientific data available through public information agencies. They have asked the government to increase funding for these agencies to enable them to offer better services.
At present, only about 10 per cent of data collected by researchers in China is estimated to be shared with other scientists. Experts say that this is the result of the affiliation of China’s research institutes to different government departments and universities, a shortage of public information management agencies, and insufficient funding for such agencies.