Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chinese academic publication requirements stir debate in US

Wolf Frommer has a post in The Scientist/F1000 relating to publication requirements for Chinese students doing work abroad while funded by Chinese government stipends:

As is the rule in many places, the Chinese PhD students are expected to publish a couple of scientific papers as part of their qualification for their degree. (...) The concern I have with the stipends is that, in order for work published abroad to count towards this requirement, some Chinese universities expect that the students are listed with their home institution as affiliation, in some cases even as the lead institution, in any papers published during the program.

Frommer gets into "who" is funding the students, noting that the host country is frequently picking up the tab for a lot of the expense of the Chinese student:

Indeed, the students are frequently co-funded by the host institution, as the stipends -- around US$10-16,000 -- are often not enough to cover the living and research expenses in high cost areas. While the stipend may seem very generous from the Chinese perspective, it may barely cover rent in areas with extremely high costs of living, such as the London, Zu´┐╝rich, New York or the Bay Area. Thus the host institution sometimes contributes to the income of the guest students, and often covers the cost for equipment and consumables. Like the Chinese institutions' contributions in form of the stipend, these items can be mentioned in the Acknowledgements.

Frommer suggests a contract approach, in which the "institution" issue is handled in advance:

At a minimum, the institutions involved should negotiate such terms prior to the students' acceptance into a host program, a practice not in place in the current system.

AND

The order of affiliations, as is the case for the authorship order, will depend on the relative contribution to the project -- the lead affiliation should be the one where most of the work was done. For example, in the case of a two-week visit, only the home institution should be listed. In the case of a two year stay, on the other hand, if the student works on topics unrelated to the interest of their home institution and there is no prior agreement regarding publications, the funding agency or institution would be most appropriately listed in the Acknowledgements.

Imagine how complicated the intellectual property issues might become.

**One commenter to the Frommer post wrote the following:

Why is the US providing any funds for these students? As a tax payer I am offended. China has a very robust economy and can afford to fully fund their students. Why should the US take funding opportunities away from US citizens to financially help Chinese students? One more case where we shoot ourselves in the foot.

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