Wednesday, January 27, 2010

China - The New Science Superpower (Sorry, USA)

In 2009 researchers in China produced 120,000 research articles, second only to the 350,000 produced by the US. Ah, the US is still pretty far ahead, you say. Not so fast, because China's annual output is about 50% more than it had been just 3 years before (compared to about a 30% increase over the last decade for the US). And the trend is for increasingly rapid gains in output by the Chinese as the country puts more and more emphasis on developing the higher education and Universities that used to be where the US led the world.

And whereas the research budgets in the US and Europe have been rather flat for many years, China's investment in research and development has grown at about 18% per year, putting it third behind the US and Japan.

So what does this mean? Well, according to Jonathan Adams, Director of Research Evaluation at Thomson Reuters, writing in the journal New Scientist, "China's emergence as a scientific superpower can no longer be denied, and it is a quesiton of when rather than if it will become the world's most prolific producer of scientific knowledge."

He adds, "The question for the EU and the US as we enter the new decade is no longer about whether we should collaborate with China, but what we can bring to the table to ensure that China wants to collaborate with us."

In short, while some hold up our own scientific advancement with ideological gamesmanship, China is passing us by.

Read the full article by Jonathan Adams here.

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