Joint UNU-MERIT/School of Governance Seminar: “The Structure and Comparative Advantages of China’s Scientific Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives”
In recent decades, there has been a sharp increase in China’s scientific output. Behind its fast growth, little is known about China’s comparative advantages in different academic disciplines. Meanwhile, despite China’s rising position (now second worldwide for research output), its research quality has been long in dispute.
Based on citation rates, many studies expressed negative opinions on the quality of China’s scientific output. In this seminar, Dr. Lili Wang (UNU-MERIT) presents a paper that argues citation reflects more social impact than quality, while the time lag between being cited and the eventual publication of citing papers masks the real recent situation in developing countries.
In particular, prior to 2006, almost half of research papers in China were published in Chinese journals, which were not visible (or readable) to people outside of China. Consequently, it is not surprising that citation rates of Chinese researchers were rather low. Given that the publication structure in China has changed tremendously in recent years, evaluation of the quality of Chinese science needs to be carried out according to the latest research output from China.
The paper examines the comparative advantages of each academic discipline, as well as their shifts over the years. Focusing on the top 5 percent of journals by each discipline, it evaluates the quality of China’s scientific output compared to the rest of the world. Differing from the criticism stated in previous literature, the paper finds that the quality of China’s research in terms of publications in top journals is promising, and that the increasing visibility of Chinese science paves the way for its wider recognition and higher citation rates.
Lili Wang holds a PhD degree from Eindhoven University of Technology and currently works at UNU-MERIT. Her research focuses on technological changes, S&T economics, and analysis of emerging technologies.
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