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[BEIJING] China's international science influence is still weak, even though its investment in science has rapidly increased in recent years, a report has found.

The Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) evaluated the changing 'science power' and global influence of 19 major countries — including China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States — since 2002.

The number of science papers, patents, citations and science awards, amongst other indices, were used to evaluate a country's science power — a country's continued investment in basic and applied research, and the results generated.

China's science power ranked fourth in 2006, up from seventh place in 2002. And in terms of investment in research China ranked third (after the United States and Japan).

But the country's global science influence — measured by criteria including the number of citations in international journals, leading international awards, and membership of prestigious science academies — has not matched its science power, researchers found. China was ranked just thirteenth out of the 19 countries.

Zhao Zhiyun, vice director of ISTIC and principal investigator for the report, said that the main reason for its low ranking is because China's institutions prioritise the quantity of science research over quality, with importance placed on the number of papers published.

"Such a practice is operated throughout the whole of China's science community, and the result reflects China's supervision of its researchers," said Zhao.

She added: "Sometimes, Chinese researchers produce very good work but they are not familiar with how to spread their work and ideas in the science community." She said language is also an obstacle for Chinese researchers as most papers are written in English.

For Chinese research to have more global prominence, Zhao said, more support for innovative research is key.

Duan Yibing, a science policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Policy and Management said that further discussion is needed on how the study's criteria reflects the Chinese science community's circumstances. He said that the current system places importance on publication rates and uses those numbers to decide how resources are divided and assigned.