The number of scientific papers published in China in recent years has increased exponentially (see go.nature.com/8fjhdt). There are concerns that these numbers are being inflated by a payment scheme offered by some Chinese institutions to boost publication in journals with high impact factors (J. Shao and H. Shen Learned Publ. 24, 95–97; 2011).
Such monetary incentives could adversely affect scientific publishing behaviour in China. Payments to editors to improve the impact factor of their journal, for example, could encourage them to coerce authors into citing more articles from that journal (see go.nature.com/ye2gae). Or it could result in citation cartels in which journals cite each other for mutual benefit (see, for instance, go.nature.com/p4u8on).
These schemes risk disrupting the drive to reduce ethical issues that undermine Chinese science.
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