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have been rapidly increasing since 2000. Amid this constant rise in the
quantity of papers, however, concerns over the quality of research
output in Asia have also increased. The purpose of this paper is to
examine science and technology journals in Asia where research is
burgeoning and to find ways to enhance the visibility and frequency of citation
of articles published by non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development and developing countries in Asia. In this work, the research
output of twelve countries in science and engineering over the last
five years is studied, using the Scopus database. We compared
publication growth, number of citations per publication, the
field-weighted citation impact of publications, national and
international collaboration rates, and the number of journals in each
country found in the Scopus database. We find that a predominant number
of research papers produced in developing Asian countries are in
technology. Hence, most research papers produced in Asian regions appear
to have lower citation rates and are often devaluated. We suggest this
devaluation relates to an individual state’s strategy for national
development, or policy priorities for choosing whether to invest
primarily in basic science or applied science. Further, this work
suggests that enhancing the accessibility and visibility of local
academic journals can be conducive to enhancing the quality of research
output, both in developing countries and in the world overall.
33.4% were produced in the European Union, 20.7% in the United States,
and 38.3% were from the largest countries in Asia (the sum of China,
India, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan). Publication growth rates in Asia have
been rapidly increasing since 2000, particularly in China. China has now
become the world’s second largest country in terms of size of research
publication: the country has published more research work than the
United Kingdom, and is projected to surpass the United States as the
largest academic producer by 2020. Other emerging academies in countries
such as Brazil, India, and South Korea are also expected to surpass
France and Japan in terms of research output in the next six years .
however, concerns over the quality of research output in Asia have also
increased. In Asia, technology appears to be a more important field than
science, given an emphasis in many countries on practical subjects. The
purpose of this paper is to examine science and technology journals in
Asia where research is burgeoning, and to find ways to enhance the
visibility and frequency of citation of articles published by
non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and
developing countries in Asia.
countries in science (physics, chemistry, mathematics, and earth and
planetary sciences), technology (engineering, computer science, chemical
engineering, energy, and materials science), and bioscience
(biochemistry, genetics, agricultural and biological sciences, and
neuroscience). The outputs of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea,
Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and
Vietnam over the last five years (2009 to 2013) were compared using the
Scopus database. We compared publication growth, number of citations per
publication (CPP), national and international collaboration rates, and
the number of journals from each country in the Scopus and SciVal
Science research performance
from four countries: China, Japan, India, and Korea. Since 2010, China
and India have shown rapid publication growth rates (Fig. 1).
Excepting Japan, research output has increased in all other Asian
countries. In Japan, research output in the sciences has grown only in
earth science. The share of Chinese articles in science has grown at a
compound annual growth rate of 8.14% from 2009 to 2013. When compared to
other subjects, publications in mathematics in China have grown slowly.
However, output of articles from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam’s
output have nearly doubled.
While citation of Chinese papers is generally low, however, CPP are
gradually increasing, which may suggest the quality of Chinese
publications is increasing (Fig. 2).
In mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biochemistry, Singapore has the
highest CPP, suggesting high quality papers, while Vietnam and Japan
show high CPP rates in mathematics and earth and planetary science,
Excepting China, the collaboration rates in all other countries are
above average (world average rate, 23.1%). Japan has shown a marginal
increase in international collaboration over the past five years. Both
the relatively high level and growth of international collaboration in
Singapore may be one of key factors contributing to their increasing
Technology research performance
economies—China, Japan, Korea, India, and Taiwan—occupies 93% of total
publications in technology (Fig. 4).
In China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, the growth rate of
research output in technology was higher than that of science. Computer
science research output in China has declined by 25.2% since 2010. Japan
experienced declines in all sectors—including 11% in engineering and
materials—save a 6.6% increase in environmental sciences (Fig. 5).
India experienced sharp output increases in computer science (75.7%)
and chemical engineering (63.7%) during the study period. In Asia, the
CPP rate in technology was lower than the CPP rate in science overall,
except in Malaysia. As in science, Singapore’s CPP rate in technology is
remarkably higher than in other countries.
Overall, collaboration figures are larger for smaller and less
scientifically active countries. China’s publication growth is the
fastest, however, but many researchers need time to become established
before they are in a position to seek collaborators. While India,
Taiwan, and China’s collaboration rates are under 20%, Korea and Japan’s
collaboration rates are 25.8% and 24.4%, respectively; these are
relatively low compared to European countries. These countries need to
boost their collaboration rates to increase research impact.
Bioscience research performance
output increase in bioscience, while both Vietnam and Indonesia have
increased bioscience output by over 100% (Fig. 7).
Bioscience articles in Japan, in contrast, increased by only 0.8%,
while science and technology output decreased. Overall, the rate of
publications has increased more in bioscience than in science and
Citation and its CPP in Biochemistry and NuroScience in Citation is
very higher than other subjects. However, 11 countries’ CPP in
‘Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology’ and ‘Nuroscience’ except
Singapore is lower than world average CPP of 8.7 and 8.4 respectively. (Fig. 8) It is noticeable that Philippine is strong at its CPP in Agricultural and Biological Sciences as compared to 11 countries.
Rank of CPP
Biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology
Agricultural and biological science
in bioscience are lower than in science, while world averages trend in
the opposite direction (Fig. 9).
Given China’s slowly increasing rate of international collaboration, it
seems likely that increased quality of output will follow. Indonesia,
Mongolia and Vietnam’ collaboration rate in bioscience are around 80%;
researchers in these countries may be selected by researchers in other
countries with stronger supports for research. Over the last ten years,
Singapore’s international collaboration rate has steadily increased,
while collaboration in bioscience in other countries is fluctuating.
Comparing science, technology, and bioscience
Forty eight percent of articles are assigned to technology, with
agricultural and biochemistry making up an average of 21.5% of these.
Overall, output ratios in agricultural and biology fields (agricultural
and biological sciences, biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology)
are lower than average in all twelve countries. Individually, however,
India and Mongolia show strength in science while the Philippines shows
better performance in agriculture and biology. China shows a predominant
focus on technology rather than science, agricultural, and
biochemistry. Japan and India have more strength in science,
agriculture, and biology than in technology. Taiwan’s percentage of
agricultural and biology articles are lower than that of other countries
(average, 21.5%). The Philippines and Mongolia seem to focus more on
agriculture and biology than other countries.
CPP in Singapore stands out among other countries. Japan’s CPP rate in
bioscience is higher only than Korea, but Korea has second highest CPP
rate overall. Only Malaysia’s CPP in technology was higher than its CPP
in science and bioscience. Given their publication rate, CPP rates in
the Philippines are strong. Overall, the bioscience CPP rate among these
twelve countries is relatively low compared to the world average
(7.67), while the technology CPP rate is higher than the world average
(4.88). Only Malaysia’s CPP in technology was higher than science and
bioscience. Philippine CPP is quite good as compared to its publication
In Japan, academic works focus more on science than technology; Japan’s
bioscience output rate is similar to the average rate for the twelve
countries. Korea’s output rate in both science and technology are higher
than that of bioscience. Meanwhile, scientific research in the
Philippines, Thailand, and Mongolia focus more on bioscience compared to
other countries. Amid the constant rise in the quantity of papers,
however, concerns over the quality of research output in Asia have also
been increasing (Figs. 1, 4, and 7).
To find ways to enhance the visibility and frequency of citation of
articles published by non-OECD and developing countries in Asia, we
consider both increasing collaboration to increase CPP, and improving
the visibility of articles by indexing journal titles on international
science-related disciplines (except mathematics) are higher than
technology-related disciplines (Table 1).
The same trend appears in Asia. A country’s average CPP generally
increases when publications in science-related, rather than
technology-related, disciplines increase. CPP is higher in biochemistry,
genetic and molecular biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering,
while notably lower in computer science, engineering, and mathematics
due to the characteristics of the subjects in those disciplines. Lower
CPP is generally understood to reflect lower quality of paper. In fact,
however, the number of average authors per paper, cited publication
ratio and journal count in several sectors such as engineering,
mathematics and computer science are smaller than those of other
disciplines like chemical engineering and chemistry. These factors lead
to relatively low citation: the number of authors per paper, 1.69 for
computer, 1.56 for mathematics, 1.75 for engineering, 2.12 for chemical
engineering, 1.89 for chemistry and 2.46 for biochemistry.International
collaboration strongly affects the citation rate of papers .
Including an international author brings a corresponding increase in
CPP rate or the impact of research. A project that includes two
countries gives twice as many citations, and increasing the number of
countries involved creates a linear increase in citations. Excepting a
few countries—Mongolia, Vietnam, and Indonesia—higher
inter-collaborationrate leads to a higher CPP rate (Fig. 12). Countries with higher international collaboration rate are relatively strong in technology compared to science.
International collaboration figures are larger for smaller and less
scientifically active countries. China’s publication growth has been the
most rapid, but many researchers need time to become established before
they are in a position to seek out collaborators. Japan has shown a
marginal increase in international collaboration over the past five
years. Relatively high level and growth of international collaboration
in Singapore may be one of key factors contributing to their increasing
citation impact. Compared to other European countries (the collaboration
rate in France is about 50%), Japan, China, Korea, India, and Taiwan
need to boost their collaboration rate to increase research impact.
collaboration in some developing countries (e.g., 80% in Mongolia)
merits further inquiry. In Mongolia and Vietnam, high international
collaboration can imply low indigenous research capacity. Where local
institutions lack the necessary human and financial resource, foreign
scholars are generally the principal investigators that lead most of the
research conducted in such countries. Similar explanation can be
applied to other developing research economies, including many
Sub-Saharan African countries (Daniel Calto, private communication,
2014). Meanwhile, as a country begins to establish a stronger research
base or in-country capabilities that are critical for a country to
pursue independent research, international collaboration rates also
start to decline.
global databases can contribute to enhancing the visibility of articles.
The higher CPP rate of individual countries can be related to the
number of journals indexed in Scopus. Though the Scopus database
includes non-science and technology disciplines, a higher number of
titles indexed from a particular country indicate higher visibility to
world readers. The share of journals from China and India indexed in
Scopus is rapidly growing, by 2.6% and 2.0%, respectively (Fig. 13).
The growth rate of indexed titles in Japan is the lowest among the
twelve Asian countries, because of the country’s well-developed
academia. Since 2009, indexed titles in Indonesia and Philippines have
increased by 32% and 31% respectively. Though the total number of
indexed titles may be marginal in these two countries, this growth is
expected to have a positive effect on increase of publication.
citation culture of research fields, that is, different citation
patterns and different publication velocities. For this reason, when
comparing different fields it is recommended to use field-weighted
citation impact (FWCI) (Daniel Calto, private communication, 2014).
There is a linear relationship between percentiles of publications in
top journals (in science, technology and bioscience) and CPP, as shown
in Fig. 14.
This trend is also related to FWCI. For this work, we used FWCI as the
measure of citation impact. This is a measure of citation impact that
normalizes for differences in citation activity by subject field,
article type, and publication year. The world is indexed to a value of
1.00, meaning that values above 1.00 indicate above average citation
impact. More specifically, a citation impact of 1.52 indicates a
citation impact which is 52% above the average. This result might be
explained by the low quality of papers published by many Asian journals:
these papers are not referred to by many scholars worldwide. In the
future, however, low CPP rates in Asia would be improved by increasing
international collaboration and improving the visibility of articles by
indexed titles on international indexing databases.
number of research papers produced in developing Asian countries are in
technology, a field with a relatively short citation span than natural
science. Hence, most research papers produced in Asian regions appear to
have lower citation rates and are often devaluated. We suggest this
difference relates to the national development strategies or policy
priorities for individual states, which choose whether to invest
primarily on basic science or applied science. Further, this work
suggests that enhancing the accessibility and visibility of local
academic journals in Asian developing countries can be achieved by
understanding the characteristics of the disciplines of each country,
through collaboration with international projects for high CPP rates,
and by indexing titles on international indexing databases.
Conflict of Interest
Science and engineering indicators 2014. Report no. NSB 14-01.
Arlington: National Science Foundation; 2014.
Knowledge, networks and nations: global scientific collaboration in the
21st century. Report no. 03/11 DES2096. London: The Royal Society; 2011.
Research output of science, technology and bioscience publications in Asia