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Nation's papers gain global credibility

By Zhang Zhihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-01 07:11

China's academic science papers have moved into second place for global citations, behind the United States, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The 2017 edition of Statistical Data of Chinese Science and Technology Papers shows that the nation's science papers have been cited more than 19.35 million times over the past decade, ahead of those from the United Kingdom and Germany.

It also shows the number of highly cited Chinese papers rose 18.7 percent compared with last year's report, reaching 20,131 papers and accounting for 14.7 percent of the global total.

The report has been released annually since 1987 by the Ministry of Science and Technology's Institute of Scientific and Technical Information.

"China's science academic literature has been steadily improving both in quantity and quality in recent years," said Dai Guoqiang, director of the institute.

"It showcases Chinese science workers' increased innovation and research capabilities, which will help transform China into a global technology powerhouse."

Academic paper citation is an indication of a paper's quality. The number of citations has long been treated as a reflection of a nation's strength in scientific research.

China is now the world's most cited country in material science research, with eight other research fields ranking second globally. These are agriculture, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, physics and pharmaceuticals.

China also ranks second behind the US for the seventh consecutive year in the number of articles published in the world's most prestigious science journals, such as Nature and Science.

Regarding global science projects, Chinese scientists contributed to about 25 percent of all the joint science papers in 2016, and cooperated with scholars from 155 countries. China's top six science partners are the US, Australia, the UK, Canada, Japan and Germany.

"China is now fully capable of participating in large-scale global science projects," said Dai, adding that such projects, in fields ranging from astrophysics to biomedicine, typically involve more than 1,000 scientists and 150 organizations around the world.

In these types of projects, China contributed to 225 papers in 2016, a 20 percent year-on-year increase. "Chinese scientists will continue to cooperate with scientists in China and abroad to facilitate scientific development," Dai said.

The report pointed to some shortcomings in China's scientific literature. In recent years, China's research has grown rapidly in applied science and engineering, but medicine and other health fields lag behind the US and European countries.

The report also showed that universities, research institutions and enterprises are the three mainstays of Chinese innovation. However, about 76 percent of the high-quality papers were generated by universities, with around 43 percent of these papers supported by the National Natural Science Fund.

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