In recent years Chinese scientific research and higher education have developed dramatically. Chinese universities have risen rapidly through global and regional rankings and the number of papers and citations from researchers in places such as Zhejiang and Tsinghua is now approaching, or in some fields surpassing, that of elite western institutions.
These developments have been ascribed to substantial funding and meritocratic policies with regard to admissions, appointment, promotion and funding.
A recent article in Quantitative Science Studies by Fei Shu, Cassidy R. Sugimoto, and Vincent Larivière notes the rapid growth of China’s research capabilities which is linked to ambitious government programmes, Project 211, Project 985, and Double First Class. These projects have directed funding towards a small group of elite universities.
The paper charts the emergence of a highly stratified system where the elite has much greater status, autonomy and visibility. It notes, however, that this hierarchy is not based on merit and that elite universities are underperforming with regard to the publication of articles and monographs. The authors argue that if China is to continue its current trajectory then the classification of research institutions needs to be transparent and based on evidence.
Quantitative Science Studies