China overtook the United States for the first time in the average number of high-quality scientific publications from 2017 to 2019, according to a recent report by a Japanese government-affiliated institute.
High-quality papers typically indicate the top ten percent of frequently cited papers in their field.
According to the 2021 Japan Science and Technology Indicators Report, China leads the global ranking with an average of 40,219 research papers published annually over the three-year period, followed by the United States with 37,124 and the United Kingdom with 8,687.
The report has been published annually since 1991 by the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy, under the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Each report is based on the three-year period that ended two years ago. According to the latest report, US papers performed well in fields such as clinical medicine, basic life sciences, physics, and earth sciences from 2017 to 2019, while Chinese papers in materials science, chemistry, engineering, computer science and mathematics were the most widely cited.
The report stated that in the 1990s, China ranked tenth or lower among the major scientific countries when it came to the number of high-quality scientific papers. However, in the ensuing years, the country has improved significantly, reaching second place in the world rankings at the end of the 2000s, which it held between 2017 and 2019 until it rose to the top.
According to the report, two factors that have contributed to China’s surge in science and technology performance are its huge talent pool and research budget. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China had about 4.86 million full-time R&D employees in 2019, and research spending amounted to more than 2.2 trillion yuan.
According to the Japanese report, the annual number of new doctoral students in China has also risen steadily and reached about 61,000 in 2019. It placed the country second only to the United States, which produced 90,000 new doctoral students that year.
The most well-known category is the “Highly Cited Works” category. These studies are among the top 1.0 percent of the most cited research papers according to Web of Science, a global database of academic literature and citations.
From 2017 to 2019, the United States published 4,413 highly cited papers over the three-year period, followed by China with 4,046 and the United Kingdom with 970, according to the report. From 2007 to 2009, China had only 579 publications per year.
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