WASHINGTON: Chinese researchers have more than doubled their output of scientific papers and now are second only to the United States in terms of volume, according to a report from Thomson Reuters released on Monday.
The research is heavily focused on materials and technology and shows China is poised to dominate several areas of industry, the report finds.
"China's comparative growth is striking, far outstripping that of the rest of the world," reads the report, available at http://researchanalytics.thomsonreuters.com/grr/.
"And the curve seems to be showing only marginal signs of slowing, still heading to overtake the USA itself within the next decade."
Chinese researchers published 20,000 research papers in 1998. This ballooned to nearly 112,000 in 2008, the report found, with China passing Japan, Britain and Germany in terms of annual output.
During the same time US researchers increased output from 265,000 to 340,000 publications a year, a gain of around 30 percent.
Chinese research is concentrated in the physical sciences and technology, especially materials science, chemistry and physics.
"China's grip on innovative materials is likely to have far-reaching effects. It is difficult to see developments in industrial sectors that draw on these technologies that will not directly or indirectly depend on the knowledge coming out of China's research," the report reads.
"If China's research growth remains this rapid and substantial, European and North American institutions will want to be part of it," Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters, added in a statement.
The report, based on 10,500 journals monitored by Thomson Reuters, parent company of Reuters, notes that China has more than 1,700 standard institutions of higher education.
"Since the Chinese economic reform started in 1978, China has emerged from a poor developing country to become the second-largest economy in the world after the United States of America," the report reads.
"Already, more than half of the nation's technologies, including atomic energy, space science, high-energy physics, biology, computer science, and information technology, have reached or are close to a recognizable international level of achievement."
Other high-growth areas for China, according to the report, include agricultural sciences, immunology, microbiology, and molecular biology and genetics.
The United States is the biggest international collaborator with China, with 39,000 Chinese papers suggesting collaboration with US researchers, or 8.9 percent of China's total. Japanese collaborations came next with 3 percent.