Research impact: China on the rise

An analysis of trends in the Scopus database of scholarly research explores China's improving performance in research impact.

Improvement in the quality of Chinese research

Data from the latest Nature Index, which analyses research published in 82 high-quality natural science journals, has revealed that China’s share of authorship had jumped by 13% in just one year as Western nations fell back

The US National Science Board published this report in 2018 which, according to Marijk van der Wende of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is “full of comments on [how] China [is] really becoming a serious scientific power in the world”.

Scopus is the world’s largest abstracting and indexing database in the world.  Reviewing the latest figures, M’hamed el Aisati of Elsevier (which owns Scopus) explores China’s rise up the research league tables. He also acknowledged that some research might still be under-represented in Scopus, for example social sciences, arts and humanities which may be published in local languages. 

In several subject areas (including computer science and engineering) China is already producing more papers indexed in Scopus that the US. If the current output trend continues, China will overtake the US on overall research output by 2022.

Beyond quantity comes impact

But it is not just in forms of quantity that China is taking on other countries. China’s rapidly improving performance in overall citation impact means it might overtake the US by the mid-1920s.

When it comes to examining what is known as field-weighted citation impact (or FWCI – which accounts for differences in citation rates between disciplines and years), China has risen from a measure of 0.78 in 2012 to  a measure of just below the world average of 1 in 2017.

During the same timeframe, the US has dropped from a FWCI of 1.47 in 2012 to 1.33 in 2017.

If these trends continue, then China could overtake the US by 2025.

Original source Times Higher Education.