Finding their niche
There are a number of research frontiers where Chinese scientists will come from their late-start positions to surpass other countries, a new study says.
A new study has identified 30 scientific frontiers where Chinese research excels.
The areas where Chinese scientists performed best are associated with the bird flu virus, polymer solar cells, black phosphorus and cloud manufacturing, according to the study published on Monday by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Clarivate Analytics.
“The 30 frontiers that China performs best in are closely related to major problems to be addressed in the social and economic development of China, which also reflects the problem-oriented nature of our country’s scientific research,” said Pan Jiaofeng, director of the academy’s Institutes of Science and Development.
“As a result, the frontier report is helpful for us to define our status in the world scientific community, as well as providing a reference for decision-makers,” he said.
The report, Research Fronts 2016, is the fourth annual published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Thomson Reuters. In early October, Thomson Reuters sold its intellectual property and science business to Clarivate Analytics.
It highlighted 180 pivotal scientific frontiers and new frontiers of international scientific research, covering eight fields, including chemistry, material science, physics, biology, engineering and mathematics.
US scientists had the highest presence in paper citations in 152 of the 180 frontiers, followed by the UK in 90 and China in 68.
However, China ranked the world’s first in 30 frontiers, while the UK took predominance in 14.
“In this newreport, we added some new analysis to find out the frontiers on which China is already taking a world-leading place, so that we can figure out where we will have the most significant influence in the coming decade,” said Bai Chunli, president of the academy.
As a matter of fact, “there are a number of research frontiers where China will come from its late-starting position to surpass other competitors and have a major international influence in the near future, which include quantum communication, particle physics, dark matter research and clean energy,” he said.
One of the world’s leading sources of scientific information, Thomson Reuters uses big data and citation analysis to define international research frontiers and rate each country’s influence. But the frontiers where China performed best were not covered by previous reports.
According to the report, China dominates most international frontiers in clinical research, chemistry and material science, and life science. However, China has little presence in astronomy and astrophysics, despite the completion of various scientific facilities, such as the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope and the Dark Matter Particle Explorer satellite.
“Sometimes there is a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in scientific research, which means that the significance of some research results do not get noticed because the publication and citation of papers usually lags,” said Leng Fuhai, a researcher at the Institutes of Science and Development.
“As a result, using citations to define research influence just gives us an angle, but its not everything,” he said.
There are a number of research frontiers where China will come from its late-starting position to surpass other competitors.”
Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences