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By Joanna Ptolomey


At the Online Information conference, in December 2011, I reported on the flurry of discussions, influences and markers that China seemed to be having in the world of scientific publishing.


At the Online Information conference, in December 2011, I reported on the flurry of discussions, influences and markers that China seemed to be having in the world of scientific publishing. A massive 9% growth in research content coming out of China was being banded about by many of the major publishers.

Not content with resting on their laurels China are now on track for number two position in the world for scientific publishing and research according to the Nature Publishing Group. But is this trend set to continue with the number one position just a matter of time?

More than 6% of the papers published in Nature journals are from China. This evidence points to China fastly becoming one of the global leaders in scientific and research publishing. According to the ISI Web of Knowledge China also publishes more than 10% of the world’s most cited research also.

The National Publishing group believe that by 2014 China could bypass both the United Kingdom and Germany who currently are second and third place rankings.

However Reuters thinks we should hold fire on the assumption that China is about to trump the West in scientific research and publishing. And there are some good reasons for the stellar growth to perhaps start levelling off.

Restrictive political and cultural attitudes could be having an effect on innovation with many scientists still preferring to be educated and trained abroad. Even with generous funding of projects scientists consider lifestyle such as good schooling, poor air quality and even food quality as concerns of scientists for living and working in China.

Perhaps the estimates of the China moving into the number one position sooner rather than later are a little bit optimistic. China is may be an emerging nation, but it is most definitely shedding part of that mantle. Politically and culturally it may keep it for a wee while longer.




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Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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