Scientific research in China has been booming along with the economy, and the nation could overtake the US as the world's leading producer of research as early as 2013, according to a report from Britain's Royal Society for Science. The report credits massive investment in China in education and in research and development for the "striking rise," which has already knocked Britain down to third place, the BBC reports.
The quality of Chinese research—as measured by the number of times a research paper has been cited by other scientists in the years after publication—still has plenty of catching up to do, note the report's authors, who stress that American output is not declining and China's rise should be seen as a good thing, not a threat. "Science has a very important role in addressing global challenges, and collaboration is necessary so that everybody can agree on global solutions," says the lead author. "The more countries that are involved in science, the more innovations we will have, and the better off we will be."