Eastern stars: Universities of China's C9 League excel in select fields

February 17, 2011

Eastern stars: Universities of China's C9 League excel in select fields
Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators, 1 January 2000-31 October 2010
%3Cb%3EC9 University (City)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EFieldPapersCitationsImpactWorld impact% %3E world
%3Cb%3EFudan University (Shanghai)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EPlant and animal science342 4,097 11.987.6656
%3Cb%3EFudan University (Shanghai)%3C/b%3E%3Cbr /%3EMaterials science1,018 10,766 10.586.9353
%3Cb%3EPeking University (Beijing)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EMaterials science1,112 11,652 10.486.9351
%3Cb%3EPeking University (Beijing)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EPlant and animal science566 6,294 11.127.6645
%3Cb%3EUniversity of Science and Technology of China (Hefei)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EMaterials science1,694 16,589 9.796.9341
%3Cb%3ENanjing University (Nanjing)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EMaterials science1,306 11,610 8.896.9328
%3Cb%3EUniversity of Science and Technology of China (Hefei)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EGeosciences595 6,541 10.99 9.5915
%3Cb%3EUniversity of Science and Technology of China (Hefei)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EEngineering1,590 8,360 5.26 4.7012
%3Cb%3ENanjing University (Nanjing)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EEngineering975 4,900 5.034.707
%3Cb%3ETsinghua University (Beijing)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EMathematics982 3,5 3.593.444
%3Cb%3EShanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai)%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EMathematics699 2,443 3.493.441
The C9 League, a group of nine Chinese universities sometimes referred to as the Chinese equivalent of the US Ivy League, produces more than its share of top scientists and highly cited research papers.

A recent Thomson Reuters analysis found that these universities, which have about 3 per cent of the nation’s research and development personnel, receive about 10 per cent of China’s R&D expenditures. The C9 League has consistently generated more than 20 per cent of the nation’s output of journal articles indexed by Thomson Reuters, and these papers have attracted some 30 per cent of China’s total citations. The group also claims some 30 per cent of the nation’s highly cited papers – those defined as ranking in the top 1 per cent by citations, after taking into account the year and field of the papers.* It is not surprising, then, that the citation impact (citations per paper) record of the C9 League is superior to that of the nation as a whole.

National citation scores, as noted previously, often mask the performance of individual institutions that perform at a much higher level. For the past decade, China’s citation impact was 44 per cent below the world average. During the past five years, that same score was 33 per cent below world average, and in 2009 was per cent below world average. In other words, while China’s research output is still cited at a rate less than the world average, its relative citation impact is rapidly improving.

The table above features C9 League member universities that have, in specific fields, already performed above the world average in terms of citation impact. For example, Fudan University, in the field of materials science, scored 53 per cent above the world average in impact during the past decade. Among institutions that produced 1,000 or more papers in the field from 2000 to 2010, Fudan ranked 26th globally by citation impact. Of the 11 university-field combinations highlighted in the table, four were in materials science. This field is obviously an area of focus for China. For the period 2005-09, China’s world share in the field was about 22 per cent, the highest for China in any field and more than twice its 9 per cent share across all fields. In terms of relative impact, the nation scored 23 per cent below world average in materials science in the past five years. Therefore, the four universities listed above in materials science achieved a significantly higher level of performance than the nation as a whole.

The University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), in Hefei, exceeded the world average in citation impact in three fields: materials science, geoscience and engineering. In three other fields – mathematics, physics and chemistry – USTC scored close to the world average during the past decade. Current trends suggest that USTC will soon exceed the world average in these fields. According to Thomson Reuters indicators, it would seem that USTC will soon challenge Tsinghua University, Peking University and others for the distinction of the most influential university in China in scientific research.

For more information on Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators, see http://science.thomsonreuters.com/products/esi

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