Business of Academic Publishing

The Chinese Academy of Sciences: Its Importance in China’s Research Ecosystem

When building a presence in a new country, it is important to understand local, social, and cultural norms around the research community. As mentioned in our previous posts, China is emerging as a market of interest to a number of international players in the research ecosystem. China’s own complex research ecosystem can be challenging for outsiders to navigate. This article introduces the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the country’s national scientific think tank and academic governing body, and outlines its contributions to China’s research capacity as well as its importance for publishers, societies, and journals trying to engage with Chinese academia.

What is CAS?

CAS was established in 1949 as the highest academic institution of natural science, the highest advisory institution of science and technology, and a comprehensive research and development center for natural sciences and high technology in China. Currently, CAS has established 11 sub-academies, over 100 research institutes, 3 top universities (University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, University Of Science And Technology Of China, and ShanghaiTech University), over 130 national key laboratories and engineering centers, 68 national field observation and research stations, and 20 national science and technology resource sharing service platforms.

Since 2012, CAS has developed a globalization strategy to significantly enhance internationalization, improve China’s ability to absorb and utilize international scientific and technological resources effectively, and significantly enhance China’s international influence, attractiveness, and competitiveness in the global research market. China’s long-term strategy is to make CAS

  • the leading representative of China in the international science and technology community,
  • a research institution that plays an essential role in addressing global science and technology challenges,
  • a leader in promoting regional science and technology development,
  • a crucial member of international science and technology organizations, and
  • a global center of excellence in science, education, and innovation.

As you can see, CAS wields a tremendous influence over the Chinese research community and CAS academicians too are looked upon as thought leaders and KOLs in China.

CAS and Thought Leadership in China

For researchers in China, becoming an academician of CAS is the ultimate honor they could receive in their careers. Influenced by the Confucianism hierarchical culture, CAS academicians exert a tremendous influence not only within their disciplines but also on society and people. In fact, Chinese K12 education textbooks feature many stories about CAS academicians, for example, the mathematicians Luogeng Hua and Jingrun Chen, and Xuesen Qian, known as “the father of Chinese aerospace.” They are heroes for multiple generations of Chinese people. CAS academicians are thought leaders and key opinion leaders (KOLs) in Chinese academia, and any information released by CAS has high credibility and trustworthiness among Chinese researchers.

CAS as an Evaluator of Journals

CAS Journal Ranking System

Most universities and research institutes in China utilize the CAS Journal Ranking system in evaluating their staff members’ performance. Therefore, almost every researcher in China refers to the CAS Journal Ranking system when selecting a journal to submit their paper. The CAS Journal Rankings are created through research from the World Science Frontier Analysis Center of CAS’ Literature and Information Center. All academic journals are divided into 13 significant disciplines and 176 sub-disciplines, and the journals of each discipline are divided into four regions according to their impact factors: Region 1 (top 5%), Region 2 (5%-20%), Region 3 (20%-50%) and Region 4 (bottom 50%). These divisions were originally created in order to facilitate library management, field research in library science, and journal evaluation. Subsequently, this system was gradually used to evaluate the quality of papers. The rankings are regularly released in October every year.

CAS Early Warning List of International Journals

In response to various pain points faced by Chinese researchers as well as research institutes, CAS releases the annual CAS Early Warning List of International Journals, which again helps researchers during journal selection. The Early Warning List is based on objective data and criteria determined through expert consultation. Journal risk is classified as high, medium, and low. These criteria include volume of articles published (e.g., a journal is considered “high-risk” if it appears to be involved in a paper mill), unreasonable or excessive article processing fees, and a sudden drop in journal performance metrics.

CAS and China-based Journals

Since 2019, CAS has also focused on supporting the internationalization of China-based journals and has set up the “Chinese SCI Journal Evaluation Program.” The main aim of this program is to improve the quality of Chinese journals, especially those from disadvantaged regions.


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