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Sci-tech press gaining in global clout

By Yan Dongjie in Nanjing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-29 23:36

Blue book: Journals have room for improvement

The influence of Chinese scientific journals has been on the rise over the past decade, based on indicators such as the number of international citations and inclusion in renowned international databases, according to the Blue Book on China's Scientific Journal Development (2023).

Released by the China Association for Science and Technology in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Wednesday during the 18th Forum on Development of China's STEM Journals, this year's blue book is the seventh in an annual series recording and reflecting the development of Chinese scientific and technological journals.

The citations of Chinese scientific journals written in English reached 882,600 in 2021, up 338.29 percent compared with 2015, and the citations of Chinese scientific journals written in Chinese reached 692,600, up 128.31 percent, the annual blue book showed.

The Scientific Citation Index, or SCI, is an important database for gauging the performance of papers, and foreign authors have been publishing more papers in Chinese journals over the past decade. They accounted for 9.53 percent of papers in such journals in 2013, rising to a peak of 19.76 percent in 2020. Last year, they accounted for 18.11 percent.

As of May, Scopus — the world's largest abstract and citation database — had indexed 1,197 Chinese journals, accounting for 4.47 percent of the total number of journals indexed worldwide.

The number of indexed Chinese journals in various disciplines has been increasing every year, with Earth and planetary sciences, energy science, engineering technology, materials science, biological science and environmental science considered strong disciplines.

More than 603,000 papers were published in the 1,197 journals from 2019 to 2022, accounting for 5.61 percent of the world total, and they were cited more than 2.12 million times. That gave China a CiteScore — based on Scopus data — of 3.9, ranking the nation fifth in the world behind the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.

Cheng Zongming, a professor at Nanjing Agricultural University and chief editor of the Journal of Horticultural Research, said the number of Chinese journals ranked in the world's top quartile has been increasing and will keep increasing.

"As far as I know, more than 10 Chinese journals now rank first in their respective disciplines. This achievement is closely related to the national strategy and the improvement of China's scientific and technological level, as well as the solid foundation of researchers," he said.

In such an environment, the development of Chinese scientific journals has reached the threshold of becoming world-class, with a solid foundation for success, Cheng added.

Last year, China's expenditure on research and development exceeded 3 trillion yuan ($422 billion) for the first time, with the proportion of basic research investment exceeding 6 percent for the fourth consecutive year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Shu Wei, vice-president of the China Association for Science and Technology, said that more excellent papers and major scientific research achievements published in Chinese journals are expected to be seen.

High-quality and internationalized teams should be cultivated and deep collaboration among the industry, academia and scientific journal communities should be promoted, he added.

The number of papers published by Chinese authors in journals included in the SCI grew from about 215,000 in 2013 to more than 740,000 last year, surpassing the US and ranking first in the world, the blue book showed. Papers by Chinese authors in such journals were cited nearly 2 million times last year, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the global total.

The blue book also showed that the number of SCI papers published by Chinese authors was approximately 20 times the number of papers published by Chinese SCI journals last year, which means that a large number of Chinese authors' achievements rely on overseas scientific journals for publication, and the capacity of domestic scientific journals to carry top-notch achievements is still far from enough.

From 2018 to 2022, China has issued 115 new scientific journals, of which 99 are in English.

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