“Explosive” growth in China’s research output

If you want to appreciate the speed with which China’s scientific output is growing, look at the latest Global Research Report from Thomson Reuters.

It shows that China’s output of research papers increased from 20,000 in 1998 to 112,000 in 2008 – when it exceeded the individual national output of Japan, Britain and Germany. China is now second only to the USA in its scientific output.

The number of papers from Chinese authors has doubled since 2004 and will exceed even the USA within the next decade, the study says.

Interestingly, American scientists play an important role in Chinese research. US-based authors contributed to nearly 9 per cent of papers from institutions in China between 2004 and 2008.

Though Chinese research is still concentrated in the physical sciences and technology, the life sciences are growing very fast.

“When Europe and the USA visit China they can only do so as equal partners,” the report concludes. “The question that may then be put to them is what they can bring to the partnership to make it worth China’s while to share.”

The world of research

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Clive Cookson, the FT's science editor, picks out the research that everyone should know about, in fields from astronomy to zoology. He also discusses key policy issues, from R&D funding to science education. He'll cover the weird and wonderful, as well as the serious side of science.

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