Research relevant to China ‘cast aside in race for citations’

Research relevant to China ‘cast aside in race for citations’

  • Social scientists should be judged on their impact, while journals should make room for under-represented voices, say academics

The Chinese system for evaluating social science research may have the unintended consequence of pushing academics away from the issues relevant to the country’s developmental needs, as authors choose subjects more likely to be approved by Western journals, academics have warned.

Researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University say that the emphasis on Clarivate Analytics’ Social Science Citation Index in assessments had led to Chinese scholars growing in influence, allowing a “silent China” to become a “China with a voice”.

However, writing in the ECNU Review of Education, published by East China Normal University, they warn that an “excessive reliance” on the SSCI also caused problems including “a lack of in-depth research into real Chinese social problems”.

In their drive to be published, Chinese academics chose “popular topics” that they felt would be interesting to Western – mostly American – editors, the paper says. They followed trends set by US researchers and began using Western theories to interpret domestic issues and, as a result, their role in serving the country’s development was weakened.