, Volume 106, Issue 1, pp 435–452 | Cite as

The structure and comparative advantages of China’s scientific research: quantitative and qualitative perspectives

  • Lili WangEmail author


In recent decades China has witnessed an impressive improvement in science and its scientific output has become the second largest in the world. From both quantitative and qualitative perspectives, this paper aims to explore China’s comparative advantages in different academic disciplines. This paper employs two datasets: publications in all journals and publications in the top 5 % journals by discipline. With the former database we investigate the comparative advantages of each academic discipline in terms of absolute output volume, and with the latter database we evaluate the scientific output published in prestigious resources. Different from the criticism stated in previous literature, this paper finds that the quality of China’s research (represented by papers published in high-impact journals) is promising. Since 2006 the growth of scientific publications in China has been driven by papers published in English-language journals. The increasing visibility of Chinese science seems to be paving the way for its wider recognition and higher citation rates.


Revealed comparative advantage Publications Scientific output Publication quality High-impact journals 

JEL Classification

O31 O32 O33 O57 



The author of this study is grateful to the valuable comments from Richard Deiss (policy officer in DG Research and Innovation), members of the consortium and the anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNU-MERITMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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