China: the new scientific superpower?

From my experience,  the quality and the quantity of the scientific research articles from China has been increasing dramatically in the last five years. To verify this impression, I crunched some numbers. In the general field where I am most active (Information Systems), China dominates in the total number of research articles published whereas it did not even register before 2003:

Moreover, while Chinese articles are still less cited than American articles, China is catching up. Back in 2005, the average American research article was cited three times as much as the Chinese article. The ratio was 1.75 in 2009.

Conclusion: Whatever policies China is putting in place, it has a dramatic effect on its scientific output.

Daniel Lemire, "China: the new scientific superpower?," in Daniel Lemire's blog, February 7, 2011.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

12 thoughts on “China: the new scientific superpower?”

  1. I know it is hard to track, but I would be interesting to check where those citations come from.

    In my experience, Asian scholars tend to cite themselves a lot, that is Chinese cite Chinese, and I’ve been founding more aand more Chinese ill written paper with terrible grammar and terrible citation formats.

  2. Just in the last year or two I’ve started seeing very well-written papers where all authors are at Chinese institutions.

  3. @Itman

    This only includes journal articles and not conference or workshop papers. Moreover, I have limited my investigation to journals in the broad “Information Systems” category. I also expect that whatever heuristic they use to determine where the authors are from is likely to be error-prone. And, of course, they do not index everything.

    Yet there is no denying the numbers that we see here.

  4. How representative are these numbers? For instance, Chile has only 27 citations. Yet, I checked only a couple of articles of a single well-known Chilean author. Only those 2 articles (for 2009) alone have about 30 citations.
    PS: Yes, China is clearly becoming a scientific superpower.

  5. What language are these articles being published in? Is this a rise in Chinese authors publishing in English or is this Chinese authors publishing in Chinese?

  6. “Whatever policies China is putting in place, it has a dramatic effect on its scientific output.”

    Have you considered that it is US policies that have this effect? By encouraging Chinese scholars to return to China?

  7. Not just citations. There are more and more Chinese publishers on scientific journals (published in English) which have gained international recognition with high impact factors. Take for example, Comm. Comput. Phy. These high quality Chinese journals are attracting Chinese authors residing overseas to make contributions to their own journals.

    Just look at the recent technological achievements of China:
    1. Fastest supercomputer in the world.
    2. Manned space flight and lunar exploration.
    3. Anti-satellite space kinetic weaponry.
    4. Fastest railway in the world.
    5. Anti-aircraft carrier ballistic missile.
    6. Fifth generation stealth fighter.

    On the contrary, many scientists in the west are merely publishing for the sake of publication and use all kinds of tactics to solicit citations for their articles. I once had my article reviewed by someone who kept commenting that I should cite his papers even though they are not exactly related to my paper.

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