Find­ing their niche

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHENG YINGQI chengy­

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

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