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Supporting Shanghai Jiao Tong University in achieving its “Double First Class” ambition

March 22, 2022 | 3 min read

By Chrysanne Lowe

Prof Xinwan Li

A leading university in China combines the analytics expertise of its library staff with the strength of Elsevier’s resources

At Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Elsevier colleagues worked with Library Director Prof Xinwan Li, PhD, to provide data and analytical services to help inform the university’s plan. Shanghai Jiao Tong Universityopens in new tab/window has been a world influencer for 125 years. Established in 1896 as Nan Yang College, the university was one of the first national institutions of higher learning in China. Former president of China Jiang Zemin is an alumnus.

In 2017, the university held a respectable rank in the 201-250 band of the Times Higher Education World University Rankingsopens in new tab/window.

In the five years since, the university has leapt into to the world’s top 100 in both THE Rankings and ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universitiesopens in new tab/window, and it’s in the top 50 in the QS World University Rankingsopens in new tab/window.

As Library Director, Prof Xinwan Li strategically supports the university’s “Double First Classopens in new tab/window” ambition, a designation established in 2015 by China’s Ministry of Education to develop elite universities and their individual faculty departments into world-class institutions by the end of 2050.

Director Li explains it as two components:

  • First, to achieve top 100 in world rankings.

  • Second, to achieve world-class subject-level ranking.

The library supports the university strategy by harnessing bibliometric insights and analysis from key databases, such as Elsevier’s Scopus — the world’s largest abstract and citation database.

“The Shanghai Jiao Tong University Library has a complete data analytics team, which enables us to help the university to understand, develop and tailor our future science strategy,” Prof Li says. Of the more than 180 library staff, 60% work in data analytics and information science. Their analytics-driven approach also guides the library’s investments and resource allocation, “and that has helped to drive the success of the university.”


Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Operating from China, Elsevier colleagues worked with Prof Li to provide data and analytical services to help inform the university’s plan. Their teams worked in partnership on several academic collaborations, including early career researcher development, a joint librarian leadership program and, in 2020, an annual Problem Based Learning national medical competition with the medical school.

The relationship has proven mutually beneficial: 23% of the university’s research is published by Elsevier on ScienceDirect, and 32% of their citations are from ScienceDirect. Over the past decade, the university has steadily made strategic investments in Elsevier’s flagship research and health solutions.

In addition, the university’s more than 40,000 students and 3,000 faculty use our databases and tools for their research, coursework and strategic planning, including Scopus, ClinicalKeyClinicalKey StudentSciValKnovelEngineering VillageReaxysEmbase and Amirsys .

With 9 million views and downloads in 2021, Shanghai Jiao Tong University is the highest user of ScienceDirect, the highest user of Scopus, and the second highest user of ClinicalKey in China. About 1% of ScienceDirect’s global usage comes from the university.

The collaboration has made for a productive partnership. As Prof Li expressed:

Shanghai Jiao Tong University has developed rapidly and significantly. We clearly see the benefits of collaboration between Shanghai Jiao Tong University library, with its edge in analytics, and Elsevier’s resource strength.  

A version of this story originally appeared in the RELX Annual Report 2021opens in new tab/window and the Elsevier's corporate brochureopens in new tab/window.


Portrait photo of Chrysanne Lowe


Chrysanne Lowe

SVP - Content, Brand & Engagement