Although China is developing its science and technology at an unprecedented speed, scientific misconduct is a serious issue, as you have highlighted in your Special Report “Named and shamed” (Nature 441, 392–393; 2006)

Shi-Min Fang, the webmaster of New Threads (, has defended, in Correspondence (Nature 441, 932; 200610.1038/441932a), this website's role in disclosing scientific misconduct on occasions when the authorities have ignored whistleblowers.

Like many other Chinese scientists working overseas, I care very much about scientific misconduct in China. However, I have also been concerned for a long time about the quality of articles published on New Threads. Often, I find that there are few facts and little investigation behind the accusations, and that many articles are mixed with assumptions and personal attacks on named scientific researchers.

One such example is that of Hualiang Jiang, a principal investigator working at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica. Because I work in a similar field, I am familiar with Jiang's work and publications, although I have never met him. New Threads contains several articles (urls provided) attacking Jiang personally, using many insulting words such as “idiot”. It seems that some of the articles were written by someone who may have been an unsuccessful job candidate at Jiang's institute.

Disclosing scientific misconduct is not simply about free speech, as claimed by Fang. It is also about being professional, objective and serious. Only verified facts should be published on the website, if it is claiming to monitor incidents of scientific misconduct. It should not be used for unsubstantiated attacks in the name of free speech, not only because of the personal and professional effects on the scientists concerned, but also because readers, especially young students, could be misled.