Infographic: How China’s One Belt, One Road initiative will change research collaboration

Modern “silk road” will connect 65 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa

This map shows the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st-century maritime silk road. See the full infographic here. (Source: SciVal with data from Scopus)

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative will transform trade and infrastructure for 65 countries by joining China to Central Asia, Europe and Africa by land and sea. Initiated by China’s State Council, it will involve the construction of roads, railways, ports and pipelines, connecting 63 percent of the world’s population.

It will also have significant implications for the research community. As such, Elsevier worked with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to apply its information analytics capabilities to a half decade of research outputs to understand what the program could mean for the region.

By using 2011-16 data from Scopus and analyzing and visualizing it with SciVal, Elsevier colleagues have examined the cross-collaborative research efforts of the 65 countries in the One Belt, One Road initiative, focusing on the research being developed with China. The resulting report, which will be publicly released in June 2017, is part of CAS’s suite of intelligence solutions to support researchers, research managers, policy makers, strategists and think tank groups in key decision-making. It highlights how this economic strategy will affect research efforts in the region, especially in China. Now, this information is also available to view as an infographic.

“The idea originally came from a discussion with the CAS,” explained Xiaoling Kang, Elsevier’s Senior Global Academic Relations Manager for China. “The results show how data analytics can support a strategically important initiative like this.”

According to the data, China is the most prolific producer of scholarly output compared to the other countries on the Belt & Road. In 2016, China produced 479,737 publications — 246 percent more than India, the country with the 2nd highest research output of the Belt & Road countries.

China is the most prolific producer of scholarly output compared to the other countries located on the Belt & Road. In 2016, China produced 479,737 publications. (Source: SciVal with data from Scopus)

Another clear trend that emerges is that research produced collaboratively will normally have a higher impact than research produced by a single country. “We also see that China tends to collaborate with specific countries in specific areas – there’s a lot of work between China and Russia on physics and astronomy, for example,” said Han Hao, Product Manager for Analytical Services at Elsevier. “China itself is the center of the international collaboration network, with Singapore as its most frequent research partner.”

Overall, the study indicates an increase over time in collaborative publications, a trend likely to be accelerated by the initiative.

The idea for the infographic originated from the Research Networks’ team in Asia. They worked closely with the SciVal product marketing team, including Aileen Christensen and Thomas Spanhaak, to develop the infographic to support the collaboration with the Chinese National Science Library and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

View the full infographic here


Written by

Ian Evans

Written by

Ian Evans

Ian Evans is Content Director for Global Communications at Elsevier. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s Global Communications Newsroom. Based in Oxford, he joined Elsevier six years ago from a small trade publisher specializing in popular science and literary fiction.


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