Chinese research powers ahead to rival the US, Publishers Assocation study finds

2016 Press Releases

Chinese research is powering ahead, a study by the Publishers Association has revealed.

While in 2000 the country spent about as much as France on R&D, today it spends more than the 28 EU member states combined. China is also second only to the US in terms of article outputand international citations and is likely to overtake America in the next couple of years. However, its investment in basic research proportionately lags behind major Western nations.

The report also shows that while the Chinese government’s role is often positive, supporting research development to gain hard and soft power, authorities can find it difficultto let go. This means that funding tends to be centralised and bureaucratic and over concerned with mechanistic measures of impact at the expense of blue-skies thinking. There is also a heavy handed superstructure of ideological control and a growing range of regulations in relation to foreign publishing and internet presence in China.

The key findings include:

  • China spends over 2% of its GDP on R&D, challenging the USA in purchasing power parity terms and putting it ahead of the EU
  • The Chinese journal market is worth around 24 billion yuan with over 2.1 billion yuan imported foreign journals and digital publications.
  • There is strong government support for the publication of new journals in English in China to raise China’s international profile
  • There is some evidence of bias against Chinese research outcomes in the international journals market, with a higher than average rate of rejection
  • There is also some to concern in academic communities about research misconduct, due in part to inexperience and in part to corruption and to official pressure for rapid increases in volume and international impact
  • The Chinese journals market is experiencing a huge shift to digital, with more journals publishing content online-first and online journals sales rising 17% in 2014 to 1.43 billion yuan

Xiaoying Chu, Vice General Manager, Charlesworth China said: “China is emerging as a major market for the academic journal publishing, and the second largest source of research articles after the United States. I will be most delighted if this report could help international publishers understand the mechanism and operations of the market, engage with their Chinese clients, authors, and partners, and even encourage greater collaboration amongst the international community.“

The report can be accessed here.


Notes for Editors

  • The Publishers Association Market Report China Journals is the most comprehensive exploration of this very valuable publishing sector
  • The Publishers Association is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership comprises 120 companies from across the trade, academic and education sectors (htttp://
  • The authors of the PA Market Report China Journals are Chu Xiaoying, Vice General Manager of Charlesworth China, and Professor Paul Richardson, an international publishing consultant. They also wrote the Publishers Association Market Report China 2015 on the Chinese publishing market as a whole
  • The Charlesworth Group ( is a high quality publishing services company, specialising in academic publications with offices in the UK, USA and China.
  • All the major Western journals publishers from RELX and Springer Nature to Oxford and Cambridge University Presses, now operate in China, with RELX alone employing more than 200 people in the sector, despite government restrictions