By: Wu Chong and Jia Hepeng


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[BEIJING] Science popularisation has been recognised for the first time in China's annual national science awards, reflecting a recent increase in the importance policymakers attach to the field.

The seven winners were announced in Beijing yesterday (9 January) at the National Science and Technology Congress.

They included a series of 'popular science' books by academics, a children's encyclopaedia, and books on global environmental change and on human evolution. Each winner will receive 100,000 yuan (US$12,000).

The inclusion of science popularisation in this year's awards follows a rule change made by the government last year.

"Before the regulation was revised, there was virtually no incentive for science popularisation in China and no government science award covered science popularisation," said a science ministry spokesperson in a press release. "The awards will gradually change the situation."

Ren Fujun, deputy director of the China Research Institute for Science Popularisation, agrees that the move should encourage more people to work in the field of science popularisation, but says the awards should also cover science communication research.

The new awards might also lead to more official funding for science popularisation as local governments compete over the number of national science awards won in their jurisdiction, says Li Daguang, a professor at the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Li thinks the awards will prompt publishers to pour more money into the field as well.