China has risen to third globally in the number of highly cited academic papers, according to a report released on Oct 12.
During the past decade, 16,900 papers－12.8 percent of the top group of those most often cited－were published by Chinese researchers, pushing China ahead of Germany. The top two were the United States and the United Kingdom.
The findings come from the Statistical Data of Chinese S&T Papers, a publication released annually since 1987 by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China, a research institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The report also found that citations of Chinese papers in a subset of eight research fields ranked second in the world. The eight fields are agriculture, chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, mathematics, physics and pharmaceuticals.
Academic paper citation is an indicator of paper quality. The number of citations has long been treated as reflection of a country’s strength in scientific research.
Li Renhan, an official at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the report reflected China’s present level of scientific research, and the development trend in science and technology both in China and abroad.
“It also helps us to analyze the aspects we need to improve in our future work and offers decision-making support for government agencies and research institutes to make related decisions,” he said.
In recent years, the institute has been encouraging researchers to focus on writing papers of high quality. To do that, the institute changed its evaluation system and this year began to release periodic reports on China’s “outstanding scientific papers”, a term the institute uses to describe papers whose citations surpass the world average.
The reports on the outstanding papers showed that more than 80 percent of them were generated by universities. The remainder were generated by other research institutes or enterprises.
Guo Tiecheng, deputy director of the institute that published the report, said: “By stressing paper quality in the new evaluation system, we hope to guide researchers to conduct research at the scientific frontier and to serve the country’s strategies.”