China ousts UK in academic research ranking

UK loses second place in publication output volume, but share of citations increases

October 2, 2009

China has done what it has threatened to do for years: it has overtaken the UK to become the second-largest producer of academic research in the world.

An annual report by data analyst Evidence, published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, shows that China has moved into second place after the US in a ranking of nations by their research output.

Although the UK published 91,3 papers in 2008 – an average of 2.3 per researcher and up more than 11,000 on 2007 – it was not enough to keep pace with the most populous country in the world, which has experienced a four-fold rise in its output over the past decade.

China produced more than 110,000 papers in 2008 – an increase of about 30,000 on the 2007 figure.

The Evidence data show that the UK was responsible for 7.9 per cent of the world’s research papers in 2008, down from an average of 8.5 per cent over the past five years. The US retained its lead, although its world share has also dropped, from 34 to 29.5 per cent over the period.

The report notes an “exceptional” global increase in the number of papers published this year, driven largely by China, Brazil, India and Iran.

Despite the drop in its share of publications, the UK’s share of the world’s citations – formal references of papers by fellow academics – increased. It rose from an average of 11.2 per cent over the past five years to 11.8 per cent in 2008, putting the UK in second place after the US.

However, Evidence notes that Germany is snapping at the UK’s heels, matching the rise in its share of citations after several years of closing the gap.

Although the UK “exhibits strong relative international performance”, it is under “constant challenge” in certain areas, the report says.

Lord Drayson, the Science Minister, welcomed the report, which he said reflected the UK’s unwavering focus on quality rather than quantity.

The Government uses the annual benchmark to assess the UK’s performance alongside the 25 world-leading research economies, including India and China.

zoe.corbyn@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Dean (International) UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND - PAISLEY CAMPUS
Assistant Dean (Research & Enterprise) UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Professor of New Media UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Professor of Sport UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Professor of Strategic Management UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND - PAISLEY CAMPUS

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants