Another made-in-China: low quality research papers

by Forrest Sheng Bao

Introduction: As many people are talking that China (excluding Republic of China, a.k.a Taiwan) is gonna catch the US (which I don't believe coz I spent 4 years in Chinese colleges), I want to let some data tell me the true story. Is China really doing good in terms of research publications?

Methods: I use SJR ( to rank papers published by authors from different countries, in different indexes (i.e., Citations, Self-Citations, Citations per doc, H Index and total docs), in several fields related to me (i.e., All Engineering, Computer Science, Medicine and Biology). Only countries with more than 1000 papers in each field are studied. The term ``Biology'' is short of Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology.

H Index is introduced by Jorge E. Hirsch in his 2005 PNAS paper "An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output." If you have N papers (out of your M papers, M>N), each of which has more than N citations, your H Index is N. H Index is kinda like the new NIH proposal rule: you can put only 15 (or maybe 5, I heard it on a sleepy dinner.) papers in your publication list in grant proposal.

Materials: The data used by SJR are from Elsevier's Scopus. Besides journal, it also includes top conferences, like IEEE INFOCOM, IEEE ICASSP, etc.

  1. China wins silver medals in total number of citable publications in all fields but medicine (9th), following United States. US publishes way tooooooooo many papers.
  2. China is out of top 10, in citations-per-doc game, in all fields, after countries like Japan, UK, Germany, France, Canada.
  3. In citation-per-doc competition, China's position is much worse than 11th. For example, in All Engineering, Computer Science and Biology, China ranks 56, 42 and 53, respectively.
  4. In H Index race, China can get into G10. In 3 fields mentioned above, China ranks 10, 11, 21, respectively.
  5. However, there are only two countries have more than half self-citations in all citations, the US and China. Most top 20 countries (ranked by number of publications) do not exceed 1/4. So, the actual positions of China are even worse.
  6. In most cases, China can't do better than Taiwan.
  7. So China cannot threaten US in research publications.  Neither other countries like UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan and Taiwan. 
  8. I would like to suggest Chinese government put more money in education than Olympic Games or World Expo. For example, every semester, a friend of mine can get thousands of US dollars for going to college because Uncle Sam does not want him to quit school for making money to relieve his family financial situation. Right on yesterday, he got $1300 federal financial aid for taking two classes during the summer in a community college. The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right, endowed by our Creator, for everyone, equally, while an equal opportunity to access high-quality education is the most possible chance a kid from a low-income community to pursue happiness. Spending money, a lotta money, on public education is a must do for a People's government.
Data analysis: Here are some snapshots I take during the study at SJR website, orded by citable docs. You can estimate the rank of countries in H Index or citations per doc by eyes.  Results can be repeated at

Computer Science:

All engineering:



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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