A top East China university plans to accept online articles with more than 100,000 hits as qualifying toward academic credentials with the same status as traditional articles published in academic periodicals.
Zhejiang University issued a draft proposal on Friday via its WeChat official account to recognize online cultural works of excellence by its teachers and students.
Excellent works include articles, audiovisual and animated products, the proposal said. The university, one of China's top five, intends to foster and fully explore an intellectual online culture.
Authors who publish articles in new media platforms of mainstream newspapers, magazines and television news media can apply for equivalent status as being published in a domestic core periodical.
The writer must generate "great influence" or earn merit from the Ministry of Education or provincial education bureaus, the draft reads.
The draft defined "great influence" as being published and reprinted by more than 10 mainstream media, achieving more than 100,000 reads on WeChat public platforms or more than 400,000 reads on toutiao.com, a popular mobile news app in China.
Mainstream media includes People's Daily, Guangming Daily and Qiushi, the magazine which is affiliated with the Communist Party of China Central Committee as well as Zhejiang newspapers and TV. Web portals Sina, Sohu and Youku are also included in the approved list.
College students must publish at least two articles in periodicals to obtain their doctorate degrees, a student from Renmin University of China told the Global Times on Sunday.
"The new regulation encourages university teachers and professors to emphasize their academic and social influence," Hu Xingdou, a professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times on Sunday.
It may help change the rigid academic mechanism in China, which has led to the statues quo whereby "most students and teachers publish academic works in core periodicals for utilitarian purposes such as seeking a promotion or merely completing their academic chores as required by their university," Hu said.
The identification of works would be related to teacher and student evaluation, employment rewards and promotion, the draft reads.
Some Chinese Internet users praised the plan as inclusive and modern.
Others wondered if amassing online hits undermined a research paper's academic credentials.
"It's important that the university specify standards as some works that receive many reads may not exert a positive social influence such as anti-reform academic works which might be read a lot but fail to promote social progress," Hu said.