China just overtook the U.S. in scientific output for the first time
A national report on the state of US science has concluded the United States is still the world leader in science and technology – except by one vital, historic measure.
For the first time, China has overtaken the US in terms of the volume of total scientific papers published – a telling statistic that underscores the rapid strides in scientific achievement China has made on the world stage in recent decades.
In 2016, China published over 426,000 scientific studies indexed by Elsevier's Scopus database – accounting for about 18.6 percent of the international total. For the first time, the US came in second, notching up 409,000 published papers.
By financial measures, the US still demonstrates impressive leadership, spending the most on research and development (R&D) - US$496 billion, 26 percent share of the global total - and bringing in the most investment to the tune of almost $70 billion.
But China's not far behind, with its R&D expenditure rapidly swelling by an average of 18 percent annually since 2000 (US was only 4 percent), to where it now commits $408 billion (21 percent of the global total), and scored $34 billion in 2016 in venture capital.
"The actual numbers are breathtaking for the speed with which they've occurred," writes economist Robert J. Samuelson in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.
"China has become – or is on the verge of becoming – a scientific and technical superpower. We should have expected nothing less."
《华盛顿邮报》的经济学家 Robert J. Samuelson在一篇评论文章中称：“实际数据令人叹为观止，速度惊人。中国已经或者说即将成为一个科技超级大国。”
[–]josefpunktk 1841 points 13 hours ago
Can we please not measure science in volume of publications, it's one of the stupidest ways to measure scientific output.
[–]AnonymousUser132 11 points 4 hours ago
Now we just need a way to measure how much IP China steals every year.
[–]lrrc49 136 points 7 hours ago
Also the quality and reproducibility of the data should matter. I have read Chinese publications and most of them are illogical trash and the data they do present doesn't support the conclusions 50% of the time.
It got so bad and to be such a waste of time on searches that I started checking each potential publication that I might need to read to see if it was Chinese in origin... if it was I didn't bother reading beyond that.
[–]thunderatwork 48 points 9 hours ago
We all know that Chinese papers aren't as good on average as Western papers, but it's interesting that China is publishing more papers for the first time.
[–]josefpunktk 99 points 9 hours ago
Crazy idea: science is really hard to measure quantitively, especially fundamental science. Darwin took some crazy amount of time to publish his work - something that would be really hard to do this day.
[–]ShadowLiberal 6 points 6 hours ago
The worst part about measuring by the # of papers published is that a surprisingly large numbers of papers are never read by anyone except the people who review the paper for publication.
[–]Quiderite 8 points 8 hours ago
China has already been in trouble and this has proven an unreliable metric. Fraud Scandals Sap China’s Dream of Becoming a Science Superpower