Bigger Than You Thought: China's Contribution to Scientific Publications

Qingnan Xie, Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 24829
Issued in July 2018
NBER Program(s):The Development Economics Program, The International Trade and Investment Program, The Labor Studies Program, The Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

From 2000 to 2016 China increased its scientific publications in the international journals indexed by Scopus to become the largest contributor to global science, accounting for about 23% of journal articles adjusted for the Chinese share of addresses or names on publications. Publications with all-China addresses contributed the most to the increase, followed by cross-country collaborations and papers by Chinese-named researchers outside the country. The same period also saw a huge increase in scientific publications in Chinese language journals not indexed in Scopus. We estimate that while Chinese language papers gain about 1/5th as many citations as non-Chinese (largely English) papers in Scopus they are so numerous that even valued as making 1/5th the contribution of a Scopus paper, China accounts for 36% of global scientific papers defined as Scopus papers and China language equivalent papers and for 37% of citations to those papers. China's move to the forefront of scientific inquiry makes it a key driver of the direction of scientific and technological progress and of the knowledge-based economies of the foreseeable future.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24829

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