China’s star ascendant as Academy tops Asia-Pacific rankings

Media releases, Nature Publishing Index 2013 Asia-Pacific


Thursday 27 March 2014

China is on track to become the dominant scientific power in Asia-Pacific, according to the editors of the Nature Publishing Index (NPI) 2013 Asia-Pacific published today as a supplement to Nature.

Supplement editors predict China is ‘on pace to take over as the top Asia-Pacific contributor to the NPI in the next two or three years’. The country has accomplished much in 2013, with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) knocking the University of Tokyo off the top of the NPI institutional rankings for the first time. Chinese scientists also lead the way in publishing more papers in Nature journals than Japan or any other Asia-Pacific nation. It is also the regional leader in Chemistry.

Despite Chinese growth, Japan still leads the region when the publication figures are corrected for authors’ affiliations. However, China is narrowing the gap and at this rate could potentially overtake Japan in 2014.

CAS, a national research organisation comprising over 100 research centres, topped the Asia-Pacific region in each subject area: chemistry, physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and environmental sciences. Both the Institute of Physics (17%) and the Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences (13%) make the greatest contribution to CAS’s NPI output. In 2013, CAS ranked 6th in the Global Top 100, up from 14th in 2012 and 23rd in 2011.

Alongside CAS’s growth, nine of the top 10 Chinese research institutions in 2013 also increased their NPI output this year.

The top Chinese research institutions are:

  • the Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • the University of Science and Technology of China in second place for the third consecutive year, with strengths in the physical sciences and chemistry
  • Tsinghua University and Peking University, which retained third and fourth places, respectively
  • genomics company BGI, in fifth place and up from sixth. BGI has grown more than other any Chinese institution proportional to its 2009 baseline
  • Nanjing University, which joined the top 10 in sixth place with a more than three-fold output increase in 2013. Its contributions to Nature Physics topped the region
  • Fudan University, up two places to seventh
  • Zhejiang University, which dropped one place to eighth, despite a slight increase in output
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), which dropped from fifth to ninth with a reduced output in 2013. SJTU’s collaboration efforts are showing results; however, the vast majority of its papers are being published in collaboration with international scientists.
  • the University of Hong Kong, which retained its tenth spot.

The Nature Publishing Index 2013 Asia-Pacific has been released as a supplement to Nature today. It measures the output of research articles from nations and institutes published in the 18 Nature-branded primary research journals over the calendar year to provide a snapshot of research in the Asia-Pacific in 2013. 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.


Nature Publishing Group press contacts:

Contact: Alex Jackson
Corporate Communications Officer, Nature Publishing Group
T: + 44 20 7843 4850

Contact: Niall Byrne
Science in Public, Australia
T: +61 417 131 977

Notes on the Nature Publishing Index:

The Nature Publishing Index (NPI) results should be used with some caveats. It is based only on the publication output in Nature and the 17 Nature research journals. So while it offers a broad coverage of basic research in the life sciences, physical and chemical sciences, the attention to applied sciences, engineering and clinical medicine is relatively limited. The NPI should be used primarily as an indicator of strength in high quality basic research. 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. 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.

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG)

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, and a range of prestigious academic and partner journals including society-owned publications. Online, provides over 8 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and services, including news and comment from Nature, and the leading scientific jobs board Naturejobs.

Scientific American is at the heart of NPG’s consumer media division, meeting the needs of the general public. Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the US and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. Together with and 14 local language editions around the world it reaches over 5 million consumers and scientists. Other titles include Scientific American Mind and Spektrum der Wissenschaft in Germany.

Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific community and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Science and Education, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Cairo, Dubai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Melbourne, Osaka, Seoul, Barcelona, Madrid, Basingstoke, Heidelberg, Munich and Paris. For more information, please go to