Is China Stepping Back from Global Research?

In recent years the Chinese government has encouraged its researchers to publish in journals included in the Science Citation Index (SCI). One result of this is that Chinese universities have been rising steadily in the global rankings. Currently Tsinghua University is 43rd in the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities and four Chinese universities, led by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, are in the top ten for publications in the CWTS Leiden Ranking.

An article in University World News by Yojana Sharma suggests that China has decided to reduce its emphasis on international research. New guidelines from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology have called for a reduction in the reliance on SCI publications for appointment, promotion and funding. This follows a declaration by President Xi Jinping that China should not follow Western standards for the assessment of academic research.

Futao Huang of the University of Hiroshima notes that universities had prepared action plans and that China was developing a new system of research assessment that would give priority to Chinese needs and values. It also appears that the government plans to establish a “Chinese citations index” that would combine “Chinese characteristics” with “international influence.”

The new system will focus on social impact, innovation and originality rather than publications and citations in international journals.

It is likely that as the new system takes hold Chinese universities will begin to fall in global research-based rankings although the change may take a few years.


University World News

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