China passes law to encourage innovative research
Jan 4, 2008
China’s Congress has passed a law that aims to allow scientists to tackle difficult research problems without jeopardizing their funding if they fail, Chinese media have reported. It is hoped that the law will increase the amount of innovative research done in China, while reducing the number of cases of scientific fraud.
The law, which is an amendment to the 1993 law on science and technology progress, will come take effect from July. It states that China “encourages scientists and technicians to freely explore innovation and bravely shoulder risks.” It adds that failures to get results in high-risk areas of research will be tolerated if scientists can provide evidence that they have tried their best.
Most scientific research in China is funded by the government through bodies such as the Ministry of Science and Technology or the National Natural Science Foundation of China. To help make fair decisions regarding funding applications for such research, a new “credit database” will be introduced. Scientists in China have often been convicted of falsifying data in the past, which is thought to be due in part to fears of losing funding.
“Failure is the mother of success,” said Li Yuan, a Chinese legislature official, according to China’s Xinhua news agency. “It will help create a relaxed academic atmosphere enabling scientists and technicians to take scientific risks.”
The law, which was drafted last year, will also give the patent rights of most government-sponsored research programmes to the researchers. In addition, the government will promote high-tech enterprises by giving them favourable taxation and fund-raising policies.
About the author
Jon Cartwright is a reporter for physicsworld.com