China to get rid of ‘ghost journals’

There is "a big gap between quality and quantity" of Chinese journals, says the government Copyright: Flickr/chrisfreeland2002

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China will change itself from a "large science and technology publisher to a powerful science and technology publisher", it announced last week (7 September) at a meeting of scientific publishers in Shanghai.

It plans to "terminate" weak journals and offer financial incentives to strong ones, starting next January, but the exact plans of how this will be done have not yet been clarified.

About one third of the roughly 5,000 journals in China are ‘campus journals’ which exist only to help graduate students and professors to boost their CVs necessary for career advancement, according to one senior publisher.

"Most are never cited. Who knows if they’re even really published. They’re ghosts," said one publisher.

Only around 10 per cent of Chinese journals are worth saving, and the rest are "information pollution", according to Wu Haiyun, a cardiologist at the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing.

More than 30 per cent of submissions to some of these journals contain plagiarised material, according to one study.

There have been several plagiarism scandals in China in recent years, and the government began a crackdown on scientific misconduct last year.