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The 2022 Nature Index Annual Tables show Chinese institutions on the rise, but the United States holds its position at the top -

The Nature Index Annual Tables, released recently, examines the institutions and countries that contributed most to high-quality natural-sciences research in 2021. China had a strong year, second for research output overall, as measured by Share. With 14.4% growth in output in 2021 compared with 2020, it was the most significant increase among the top ten countries in the Annual Tables.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences leads the institutional tables for the tenth consecutive year since the Index was established, with a Share of 1,963.00 in 2021. This is more than double that of Harvard University, in second place, with a Share of 910.93. Four of the ten leading institutions come from China. Of those ten, only the Chinese institutions have shown an increase in adjusted share from 2020–21.

Reflecting the overall picture of China's dominance, another Chinese institution, The University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (8th overall), has seen a growth of 21.4%. Thus, making it the fastest rising institution in the Index. Of the 50 fastest-rising institutes, the top 31 are from China. In contrast, in the 2021 tables, only two of the top 10 were Chinese institutions. This year just ten of the 50 come from outside China.

Elsewhere, while the United States remains the top nation for research output, the amount of research has declined by 6.2%. Its steepest fall since 2017 and the largest decline posted by a top 10 country. Other countries among the top 10 have also seen a decrease in the output: Germany, third overall, has seen a downward turn of 0.7%, and the United Kingdom, in fourth, has seen a drop of 5.7%. It should, however, be borne in mind that the Index is a zero-sum game with a finite number of about 60,000 articles published per year in the Index journals. With Chinese institutions rising so much, other countries and institutions have to fall in the competition to publish in the 82 journals of the Index.

According to David Swinbanks, Founder of the Nature Index, while the Annual Tables are a good indicator of high research output in the natural sciences, readers use the findings alongside other scientific works such as data, software, and intellectual property when considering research quality and institutional performance.

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