2018 - All Press Releases

Nature Index launches first global science city ranking: Beijing number one

The Nature Index 2018 Science Cities supplement published in Nature today includes the first Nature Index global science city ranking. 

London, 01 November 2018

The Nature Index 2018 Science Cities supplement published in Nature today includes the first Nature Index global science city ranking. The ranking confirms dominance of China and the United States in research output. Beijing is the top science city globally, followed by New York, Boston, San Francisco and Baltimore.

Besides Beijing, nine other cities in China rank amongst the top 50 cities globally, as measured by the Nature Index, which tracks the authorship of articles in 82 high-quality research journals.* The US accounts for 19 of the top 50 cities. Tokyo (6th) and Paris (8th) are the only cities in the global top 10 that are outside the US and China.

The supplement profiles five science cities that are leaders in their regions, namely, Cape Town, San Francisco, Munich, Wuhan and São Paulo. It explores the challenges these cities face in continuing to attract and retain academics, collaborate, and publish outstanding science. For instance, San Francisco’s soaring housing costs could undermine its position as a leading region of innovation; Wuhan is under pressure from the intensified competition for research talent in China.

David Swinbanks, founder of the Nature Index said: “When looking at the long-term sustainability of a global science city, local matters count just as much as worldwide trends. The Nature Index 2018 Science Cities supplement identifies some of the issues that policymakers and research institutions need to pay close attention to, from soaring housing costs to social inequalities and access to equipment.

“Competition between science cities is heating up, but those that perform the best are often the ones that collaborate, both domestically and internationally.”

The supplement also shows that the top collaborating cities in the Nature Index are typically located in the same country. Beijing and New York are the only city pair in the top 25 from different countries. Beijing’s major collaborating cities within China are Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan. Other major international cities that Beijing collaborates with in research are San Francisco and Boston.

Notes for editors

The Chinese cities listed among the global top 50 are: Beijing (1st), Shanghai (7th), Nanjing (12th), Wuhan (19th), Guangzhou (25th), Hong Kong (26th), Hefei (27th), Hangzhou (33rd), Tianjin (35th), and Changchun (42nd).

Further information

More information about the Nature Index is available at natureindex.com

About the Nature Index

First launched in November 2014, the Nature Index database tracks the author affiliations of research articles published in a group of 82 high-quality natural science journals, increasing from 68 in June 2018 (see Revisions to the Nature Index).

The selection process for the current list of journals was led by two independent panels of active scientists in the life and physical sciences. Journal selections were validated using more than 6,600 responses from researchers to an email survey, which asked "Where would you most like to publish your best research?”

A rolling 12-month window of Nature Index data is made available openly under a Creative Commons license at natureindex.com, allowing users to analyse research outputs from, and collaboration among, more than 9,000 institutions and 150 countries. On the index website, an institution's article output is organised by broad subject area and can be viewed across the most recent 12-month period. International and domestic collaborations are shown for each institution.

The Nature Index website also presents annual league tables of institutions and countries going back to 2015. Upon free registration on the website, users are able to plot longitudinal trends in output for institutions and countries, and export raw data for further analysis.

 The Nature Index uses two counts of article output: 

  • Article count (AC) - A country or institution is given an AC of 1 for each article that has at least one author from that country or institution. This is the case whether an article has one or a hundred authors, and it means that the same article can contribute to the AC of multiple countries or institutions.
  • Fractional Count (FC) - FC takes into account the relative contribution of each author to an article. The maximum FC per paper is 1, and this is shared between all authors under the assumption that each contributed equally. For instance, each author on a paper with 10 authors would receive a FC of 0.1.

Each year the Nature Index releases its annual tables. These show calendar year output in Nature Index journals, and reveal the countries, institutions and companies that are leading the way in publishing high-quality global science.

Nature Index supplements are curated by a dedicated team of editors and provide analysis and commentary around the most recent data, including organisational and country-level profiles, as well as areas such as collaboration, innovation and corporate research. These supplements also include additional information from other data sources, such as demographics, national spending on research and development, and changes to science policy and funding, that help to put the Nature Index data into context.

About Nature Research

Nature Research is a portfolio of high-quality products and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences – including journals, databases and researcher services – dedicated to serving the scientific community.

Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading, international weekly journal of science. Nature Research also publishes a range of Nature-branded subscription journals, the leading open access multidisciplinary journal Nature Communications, other open access journals including Scientific Reports, and a range of Nature Partner Journals published in partnership with institutions and societies. Together, these journals publish some of the world's most significant scientific discoveries.

Online, nature.com provides over nine million unique visitors per month with Nature Research content, including news and comment from Nature, and the leading scientific jobs board, Naturejobs. Nature Research also offers a range of researcher services, including online and in-person training and expert language and editing services. For more information, please visit nature.com and follow @nresearchnews. Nature Research is part of Springer Nature.


Susie Winter
Director of Communications and Engagement, Research
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