THE DataPoints is designed with the forward-looking and growth-minded institution in view
Mainland China now occupies an “irreplaceable” position as Hong Kong’s top research collaborator after rapid growth in links between them since the handover from the UK to Beijing in 1997.
A new paper shows that more than half of Hong Kong’s research now features collaboration with the mainland. According to the analysis of research indexed in the Web of Science bibliometric database, publications featuring authors from both Hong Kong and mainland China grew by an average of 12 per cent a year between 1998 and 2017.
This was double the overall growth rate in Hong Kong’s research publications of 6 per cent, leading mainland Hong Kong papers to account for 53 per cent of the city region’s total output in 2017, up from about 17 per cent in 1998.
The deepening research ties meant that the differences in collaborative output between mainland China and other partners “gradually widened” so that the next most important research collaborator for the Hong Kong – the US – represented a far lower share of the city region’s overall output by the end of the period (17 per cent from 2014 to 2017).
The analysis indicates that China “gradually came to occupy an irreplaceable position through a rapid growth of collaborative publications with Hong Kong”, say authors Qian Ma and Wenlan Li, from China’s Tianjin University.
The research areas with the greatest level of Hong Kong-mainland collaboration were engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science and computer science. In engineering, collaboration with the mainland represented 60 per cent of all Hong Kong’s research in 2017.
The data also show that over the past 10 years, Guangdong province, home to the rapidly growing cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen that are close to Hong Kong, has taken over from Beijing as the most important collaborating Chinese area.
However, the analysis, published in Scientometrics, also finds that research collaborations between Hong Kong and the mainland garnered far fewer citations on average than papers co-authored with other countries.
“This indicated that publication quality and innovation should be given special emphasis in addition to quantity, not only in subject construction but also scientiﬁc projects,” the paper says.