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New report highlights 128 research fronts that China wants to dominate

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

China are increasingly dominating in almost all research areas, and they are accelerating the pace and stepping up their ambitions.

 

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Clarivate, a global leader in connecting people and organisations to intelligence they can trust to transform their world, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have just announced that they’ve released Research Fronts 2023, their tenth annual joint report. The report unveiled the latest progress and the evolving direction of scientific fields by identifying significant research specialties in sciences and social sciences.

 

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A total of 128 Research Fronts were identified in this year’s report, including 110 “hot” and 18 “emerging” Fronts. A hot Research Front tracks an active area, and an emerging Research Front identifies a rapidly developing area in scientific research.

Overall these fronts are important because increasingly China wants to dominate them all by 2045 as it seeks to out compete everyone else on the planet in the quest for what the Chinese government calls Science and Technology (S&T) dominance, and being able to understand where CAS and the wider Chinese R&D ecosystem stands in this world, and then who their competitors are and how they’re also doing, is vital. The report, which follows on from a similar report with similar findings – that China leads in 37 out of 44 important emerging technology fields – provides a distinctive advantage for administrators, policy makers, and others who need to monitor, support, and advance the conduct of research in the face of finite resources.

Osher Gilinsky, Vice President, Academia & Government, Clarivate, said: “At Clarivate, our vision is to fuel the world’s greatest breakthroughs by harnessing the power of human ingenuity. The Research Fronts report is a perfect example of how we help advance the success of people and organisations through transformative intelligence and trusted partnership.

 

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“Today marks the tenth anniversary of our collaboration with CAS on this meaningful project, and we are proud of its increasing influence on science policy and research funding decision making across the world.”

The 128 Research Fronts identified this year reflect a broad range of specialty areas and topics. For example, in environmental sciences, one of the Research Fronts centers on the growing problem of microplastics in the environment – specifically, in agricultural soil, due to farmers’ use of plastic mulch. More generally, Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to influence many disciplines, from promoting “brain-inspired learning” in machines to affording deeper knowledge of the human proteome.

Chang Jin, Vice President of CAS said: “CAS has always regarded basic research as the foundation of our growth. We have taken every measure to enhance our basic research which includes implementing the ‘Ten Principles in Basic Research’, consolidating topics in basic research and carrying out cross field and interdisciplinary collaborative research. Releasing the Research Fronts report is key in our approach to play an increasingly important role as a national think-tank and better understand the trends in global science and technology.”

 

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Research Fronts are defined when scientists undertake the fundamental scholarly act of citing one another’s work, reflecting a specific commonality in their research – sometimes experimental data, or a method, a concept or hypothesis. Expert analysts at Clarivate used the Essential Science Indicators (ESI) database which is built on the foundation of the Web of Science index, to conduct co-citation analysis. Research Fronts are discovered by tracking the world’s most significant scientific and scholarly literature and the patterns and groupings of how papers are cited – in particular, clusters of papers that are frequently cited together over a five-year period. A Research Front is then formed when such a group of highly cited papers attains a certain level of activity and coherence.

In conjunction with the Research Fronts 2023 report, Clarivate and CAS also published 2023 Research Fronts: Active Fields, Leading Countries/Regions to examine and compare regional performance across the 128 Research Fronts. The report revealed that the US remains the leading nation for research in 11 areas of sciences and social sciences, with China as number two.  The gap between China and the US, however, has been reduced. UK, Germany and France joined the top five countries in terms of performance in Research Fronts 2023.

 

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Learn more about this year’s report and the highlighted Research Fronts here.

 

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