Todai on track to lost top spot to Chinese Academy of Sciences in Asia-Pacific research rank

Media releases, Nature Publishing Index 2012 Asia-Pacific


Thursday 21 March 2013

Japan continues to lead the Asia-Pacific in research output. But it could be overtaken by China in the coming years. The top institution in the region in 2012 was The University of Tokyo, but it will almost certainly lose its crown to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 2013. Indeed on a month by month basis the CAS is already in front.

These are the lead conclusions of the Nature Publishing Index (NPI) 2012 Asia-Pacific supplement published today in Nature.

Japan dominates the Asia-Pacific region’s scientific output for 2012, according to the NPI, publishing the most research in three subject areas; chemistry, life sciences and physics. Eighty of the top 200 research institutions in the region — and six out of the top ten — are in Japan.

The gap to second-ranked China is significant but under threat owing to China’s faster growth. Japanese authors published 398 articles in Nature research journals in 2012, compared with China’s 303. Measured by corrected count, which takes into account the relative contribution of individual authors in joint publications, the difference is even more: Japan at 233.87 compared with China at 150.03. But, in the past five years China has increased its publication count by 300% compared with Japan’s 55% so Japan’s dominance may not last long.

Japan’s well-established scientific program is reflected in the stability of the national institutional rankings. The top four institutions have not changed from 2011. Kyoto University, RIKEN and Osaka University make up the top four with The University of Tokyo. Tohoku University, the institution hardest hit by the March 2011 earthquake, dropped one place in 2012, to sixth. But this university has been promised significant funds for reconstruction, which includes plans to develop an International Research Institute of Disaster Science.

Nagoya University rose to fifth place; and seventh to tenth places are taken by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology, Kyushu University, Hokkaido University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. One to watch is the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, which rose from 30th to 15th place and was the top Asia-Pacific institute publishing in Nature Geoscience in 2012.

The Nature Publishing Index 2012 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 2012. 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 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.

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