, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 707–721 | Cite as

On the development of China’s leadership in international collaborations

  • Wei QuanEmail author
  • Philippe Mongeon
  • Maxime Sainte-Marie
  • Rongying Zhao
  • Vincent Larivière


This paper studies the relationship between leadership, team size, and citation impact in China’s international research output from 1980 to 2016, measured in terms of number of authors, institutions, countries, and citations. Distinction is here made between leading and non-leading Chinese international collaborations, which respectively refer to papers whose first or corresponding author is affiliated to a Chinese institution and papers co-authored by researchers from a Chinese institution but whose first and corresponding authors are not. Analysis at the individual, institutional, and country level show that while average team size by paper increases over the period, the main collaboration mode remains bilateral at the country level. We also observe a positive relationship between team size and research impact up to a certain point, but Chinese-led international collaborations tend to imply smaller teams and have lower impact than non-leading collaborations.


Collaboration Team size China Research evaluation Citation analysis 



Research for this article has been founded by the Wuhan University Scholarship Fund and Yu Gang-Song Xiao scholarship from Wuhan University, China, Québec-China Short-term research or professional development scholarships (3C), and China Scholarship Council (CSC). The authors also thank the Observatoire des Sciences et des Technologies for providing the data.

Author Contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: WQ RYZ VL. Performed the experiments: WQ PM MSM. Analyzed the data: WQ. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: WQ PM MSM RYZ VL. Wrote the paper: WQ PM MSM.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Quan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Philippe Mongeon
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Maxime Sainte-Marie
    • 3
  • Rongying Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vincent Larivière
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Center for Chinese Science EvaluationWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.School of Information ManagementWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l’informationUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Centre for Science and Technology StudiesLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research PolicyAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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