China's becoming a research superpower, though quality is mediocre

The Financial Times reports “China scientists lead world in research growth”:

Jonathan Adams, research evaluation director at Thomson Reuters, said China’s “awe-inspiring” growth had put it in second place to the US – and if it continues on its trajectory it will be the largest producer of scientific knowledge by 2020…

China far outperformed every other nation, with a 64-fold increase in peer-reviewed scientific papers since 1981, with particular strength in chemistry and materials science.

“China is out on its own, far ahead of the pack,” said James Wilsdon, science policy director at the Royal Society in London…

Although its quality remains mixed, Chinese research has also become more collaborative, with almost 9 per cent of papers originating in China having at least one US-based co-author…

Although the statistics measure papers in peer-reviewed journals that pass a threshold of respectability, “the quality [in China] is still rather mixed,” says Jonathan Adams, research evaluation director at Thomson Reuters. But it is improving, he adds: “They have some pretty good incentives to produce higher quality research in future.”

Posted by James on Tuesday, January 26, 2010