For the first time, China has slightly edged out the United States in the number of most cited papers, a key measure of research impact, according to a Japanese science policy institute. The milestone provides fresh evidence that China’s scholarship, known for its burgeoning quantity, is catching up in quality as well.
“People are writing off China, [saying] they’re putting out a lot of stuff but it’s not good quality,” says Caroline Wagner, who studies science policy and innovation at Ohio State University, Columbus. “That’s just short-sighted.”
Scholars disagree about the best methodology for measuring publications’ impact, however, and other metrics suggest the United States is still ahead—but barely.