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China's research influence continues to rise, says NPG study

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Nature Publishing Group has reported a big increase in papers authored by Chinese researchers. The proportion of papers in Nature-branded journals published by authors based in China increased by 35 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

The Nature Publishing Index 2012 China, published this week by Nature Publishing Group (NPG), revealed that, in 2012, 8.5 per cent of all research papers published in Nature-branded journals had authors based in China. Authors from institutions in China contributed 303 papers published in Nature branded journals in 2012. In 2011 the number was 225, or 7.0 per cent of the total number of papers in the journals, and in 2010 it was 152 papers, or 5.3 per cent of the total. In 2000, just six articles published in Nature-branded journals had co-authors from institutions in China, according to the publisher's figures. 

David Swinbanks, regional managing director, Asia-Pacific, NPG, told Research Information: 'The huge growth in quantity of research from China has, in recent years, been matched by a huge growth in quality. From about 2004, leaders of universities and government research institutes in China were beginning to say very strongly that there had been too much focus on quantity rather than quality of research in the past 10 years (from the mid 90s) and the time had come to focus on quality. True to their word they have done that.'

He also noted that the increase in Chinese authorship in NPG's journals follows a wider interest in publishing in English-language journals: 'Chinese institutions have, since the mid 1990s, clearly had a strategy to publish more in ISI-tracked journals, most of which are English language. This trend has been actively encouraged by Chinese institutions, and government policy that rewards scientists for publishing in ISI-tracked journals. The move to publish in Nature-branded journals and other top journals is related but more recent, dating from around the mid 2000s.'

Swinbanks is enthusiastic about the growth and its implications for publishers like NPG: 'The increase in high-quality research output from China is a very positive development for us. We have gone from a situation a decade ago where we only published a handful of papers from China in Nature and the Nature research journals to today where we can see China as becoming a dominant player alongside the USA and other top Western countries. That is why we have established a Macmillan Science and Education office in Shanghai and why we are basing editors of Nature Communications in Shanghai.'