(17 Aug 2022) For the first time, China has slightly edged out the United States in the number of most cited papers, a key measure of research impact, according to a Japanese science policy institute. The milestone provides fresh evidence that China’s scholarship, known for its burgeoning quantity, is catching up in quality as well. “People are writing off China, [saying] they’re putting out a lot of stuff but it’s not good quality,” says Caroline Wagner, who studies science policy and innovation at Ohio State University, Columbus. “That’s just short-sighted.”
Scholars disagree about the best methodology for measuring publications’ impact, however, and other metrics suggest the United States is still ahead—but barely.
For the new report, Japan’s National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) tallied the top 1% papers in terms of citations, a rarified stratum inhabited by many Nobel laureates. Many such elite articles have authors from multiple countries, however, which complicates the analysis. In one study, NISTEP used a method called “fractional counting” to divide the credit. If, for example, one French and three Swedish institutions contributed to a paper, France received 25% of the credit and Sweden 75%.
Using that measure, China accounted for 27.2% of the most cited papers published in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and the United States for 24.9%. Next was the United Kingdom, with 5.5%; Japan was in 10th place. (U.S. researchers were still slightly ahead when NISTEP used a less fine-grained method that credits every country that contributed to a highly cited paper equally, regardless of how many of its institutions were involved.)
Read more from the original article at Science here.