Daniel Lemire's blog

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Chinese researchers publish more research papers

Funding agencies in Canada seek to emulate American funding agencies by promoting excellence. What this means in concrete terms is that few professors get most of the resources whereas the bulk of University professors are left with a pitance or nothing. The intuition behind this more competitive approach is that we must catch up with the American efficiency. We must reward the most productive researchers and stop wasting money with the unproductive ones. (Disclaimer: I am happy with the research grants I got so far. Luckily, I have been judged to be productive…)

But how is the American system holding out against the competition? I looked at the countries publishing most research papers in Computer sciences, in 1998 and then in 2008.


  1. USA (14,294 papers)
  2. Japan (2,941 papers)
  3. United Kingdom (2,706 papers)


  1. USA (15,744 papers)
  2. China (14,680 papers)
  3. United Kingdom (5,703 papers)

It appears that whereas most countries have doubled or more their production of research papers, the USA has stood still. Because these numbers are for 2008, I conjecture that right now, in 2010, Chinese researchers already publish more than their American counterparts. Of course, American authors are more cited, but the gap between China and the USA is closing in this respect as well. Interestingly, Americans also appear to be losing their edge compared to the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Canada.

While I do not have enough evidence to conclude, I conjecture that an all-or-nothing approach, so common in the USA, may not be so efficient after all. By leaving most University professors behind, you are wasting precious resources. And I fear that by emulating this model, Canada might be losing out too.

Source: SJR.