Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fang Zhouzi Looks at 2007 and the Year Ahead

In a recent question and answer session with a reporter, Fang Zhouzi outlined a few thoughts of the year just past and ahead:

Q: During the year 2007, what event in China did you concern the most and why?

A: My biggest concern was how the new Office for Scientific Integrity (科研诚信建设办公室) within the Ministry of Science and Technology had been coming about. The establishment of this Office was announced at the beginning of 2007 to accept reports on scientific fraud and organize investigation and disciplinary actions. But as soon as that announcement came out, the Office had disappeared from the media. We haven't seen any action from that Office for an entire year... ...

Q: During the year 2007, which person did you concern the most?

A: I always concern with only the cases, not the individuals. So I did not pay special attention to any person. It would probably not a good thing for anyone to get my concern anyway.

Q: Looking back 2007, what did you and your New Thread achieve?

A: This has been a most productive year for myself. I published four new books and they are all selling very well. I also revised and published new editions of two old books. These books used up the material I have accumulated through the years, so going forward, I probably would not be as productive. This year, I also had the most opportunity in delivering speeches in colleges and on TV... ... During 2007, New Thread continued to focus on the corruption cases in China's academia. We exposed about the same number of frauds as in 2006. But during 2006, we were able to see a few of the major cases resulted in official disciplinary actions. In 2007, we did not have such luck. It seems that the media did not pay as much attention to academic corruption as in 2006.

Q: Looking ahead of 2008, what are you hopes in debunking academic fraud in China?

I hope the media will continue to pay attention to this phenomenon and do not sway when it's no longer a hot spot. It's very important to have media watchdog in stopping the frauds. One site can not do it alone. We need the cooperation of all media. We also need the official institutes to investigate and discipline. I hope the Ministries of Science and Technology and Education, the Chinese Academy of Science, and all universities and institutes to actually act upon these issues in 2008, so we all can have more confidence in China's academia.

Q: In 2008, what are your plans in your personal writing?

A: I will continue to write columns for China Youth (中国青年报) and other newspapers. I plan to publish at least two new books. One is a handbook of scientific practices in health; another is about rules and regulations in academic practice. I also will have another book published in Taiwan.

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