Science Leader No More? China Challenges US Dominance


The United States still leads the world in scientific research, at least in publishing the most biomedical studies in top-tier journals and spending the most money on research and development (R&D).

But that might not be the case for long, a group of scientists claimed in an opinion piece published today (June 15) in the journal JCI Insight.

America’s dominance in the scientific world is slowly shrinking, the researchers found, largely because China has invested vast amounts of money in science over the past two decades. In 2015, China’s biomedical research teams ranked No. 4 on the top 10 list for the total number of new discoveries published in six top-tier journals, the researchers said. In 2000, China didn’t even make the top 10 on this list (coming in at 14), the researchers reported.

What’s more, China spent 75 percent of what the U.S. spent on total R&D in 2015, the researchers said. In 2000, China spent a mere 12 percent of what the U.S. spent, they found.

However, the future of research might be collaborative. More scientists from the U.S. and around the world are making new discoveries and advancements by working with international partners, the researchers said.

To get a better idea of the scientific world’s leading countries, the researchers went through six top-tier journals (JAMALancet,the New England Journal of MedicineCellNature and Science) and four mid-tier journals from 2000 to 2015. The researchers also analyzed each country’s R&D investments from that period.

Over the past 15 years, research funding in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and other European countries has stagnated, while China’s funding has dramatically increased, the researchers found.

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