China’s big spend fuels boom in scientific research

Embargoed, Nature, NPI 2011 Asia-Pacific


China’s science output is the fastest growing of the top five countries of the Asia-Pacific, as measured in the Nature Publishing Index 2011 Asia-Pacific, released today. China has consolidated second spot in the region behind Japan, and on current trends may become the top Asia-Pacific contributor to Nature journals within a decade.

The figures for China are in keeping with the huge expansion of research as a result of significant increases in funding over the past 15 years made possible by China’s sustained high economic growth. In mid-2011, the Ministry of Science and Technology committed to further boost the percentage of GDP being spent on R&D by 2015.

China’s continuing rise in the research rankings is reflected in the increasing number of Chinese research institutions placed in the top 50 of the Nature Publishing Index Asia-Pacific ranking of institutions — with seven in the top 50 in 2009 rising to 14 in 2011.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is the largest science and technology research organisation in the world and the premier research institute in China. With strong representation in palaeontology, physics, and earth and life sciences in 2011, the CAS ranked third highest in the Asia-Pacific region. The CAS ranks 23rd in the Nature Publishing Index Global 100 (beta) rankings for 2011, also released today.

The University of Science and Technology of China (11th in the Asia-Pacific) and Peking University (13th) also made the Global 100 (beta) rankings. Tsinghua University dropped to fourth place in China (from second in 2010) but ranks as the second-best Chinese institution on the three-year average.

The Nature Publishing Index 2011 Asia-Pacific measures the output of research articles from nations and institutions in terms of publications in 2011 in the prestigious Nature research journals. The Index, which provides an insight into the quality and impact of Chinese and Asia-Pacific science, is published as a supplement to Nature.

The supplement provides a snapshot of research in the Asia-Pacific in 2011. To see the latest results for the region, and the Nature Publishing Index Global Top 100, visit the Index website at The data posted on the website is updated every week with a moving window of 12 months of data.


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Notes on the Nature Publishing Index:

The Index results should be used with some caveats. The Index only covers Nature and the 17 Nature research journals, so while it offers broad coverage of basic research in the life sciences, physical and chemical sciences, coverage of applied sciences, engineering and clinical medicine is relatively limited, and so the index should be used primarily as an indicator of strength in high quality basic research. It does not incorporate publication in other high quality journals. The Index also only considers one factor — publication output in one family of journals. It does not weight multiple factors in the way that other rankings do, such as the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities or the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The output of an institution or country obviously depends on its size. Finally, some institutions have very large numbers of researchers that help drive up their rankings. So it is important to take into account the numbers of researchers in an institution or country when interpreting the results.

The Nature Publishing Index Global 100 (beta) ( ranks the top 100 institutions in the world according to the numbers of papers published in Nature research journals in 2011, and is derived from a beta website covering over 2500 institutions worldwide that published in Nature research journals in 2011. The Nature Publishing Index Global Top 50 (beta) is produced in collaboration with Digital Science, a division of Macmillan Publisher Ltd.

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