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To build a world-class sci-tech periodical and lead China's sci-tech periodicals from big to strong, what is our "foundation", "confidence", what kind of "foundation" we have and how to strengthen the "bottom"? The reporter of Science and Technology Daily conducted an in-depth interview for this purpose.

The 18th China Sci-tech Journals Development Forum's Outstanding Journals Exhibition Site. Science and Technology Daily reporter Li Liu photo

Foundation: Many China figures have been added to the forefront of world sci-tech periodicals.

"China has become a big periodical country, but it lacks influential world-class sci-tech periodicals." This is the judgment made in the opening remarks of the Opinions on Deepening Reform and Cultivating World-class Sci-tech Journals (hereinafter referred to as the Opinions) jointly issued by China Association for Science and Technology, Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science and Technology in 2019.

With the practice in recent years, people have found that many China figures have been added to the forefront of world sci-tech journals. According to the Journal Citation Report (JCR) published by data analysis company Kerui Weian in 2023, the impact factor of Cell Research in China reached 44.1, ranking among the top 100 journals in the world. Many China sci-tech journals such as Electrochemical Energy Review, Molecular Plants, Horticultural Research and Advanced Ceramics rank first in the world in terms of impact factors in this discipline. In recent years, the total number of periodicals included in SCI has increased by less than 4%, while the number of periodicals entered into SCI in China has increased by 25%.

Photo courtesy of respondents

However, does this mean that we are not far from building a world-class sci-tech journal?

"A world-class periodical must be a carrier that can continuously and intensively publish world-class scientific research achievements of a certain discipline or disciplines, and its papers must have a significant impact on one or several aspects such as academics, technology and industry, and can lead a certain field, even have a greater impact on human progress and social development." Zhu Bangfen, a condensed matter physicist and academician of China Academy of Sciences, once expressed the connotation and extension of world-class journals. As far as the objective situation is concerned, there is still a big gap between "significant influence" and "greater influence" of Chinese sci-tech periodicals.

According to the "Blue Book of China SCI-tech Journals Development (2023)" (hereinafter referred to as "Blue Book"), in 2022, the total number of SCI papers published by authors in China was more than 19 times that published by SCI journals in China. This means that a large number of China authors need to rely on overseas sci-tech journals to publish their achievements, and the carrying capacity of Chinese sci-tech journals for first-class achievements is far from enough.

At the same time, the Blue Book also shows the current situation that the publication of sci-tech periodicals in China is "small and scattered". By the end of 2022, the total number of sci-tech periodicals in China was 5,163, belonging to 3,218 sponsors. 77.13% of the organizers only host one kind of sci-tech journal. These scattered sparks need to be gathered to start a prairie fire.

Nowadays, it has become an obvious trend that sci-tech periodicals are concentrated in large publishing institutions internationally. In order to enhance the market share, large international publishing institutions have continuously strengthened the development of clustering. Take Springer Nature Group as an example. By 2022, there were 65 sub-journals of Nature, covering almost all disciplines, and it also expanded at the rate of three sub-journals per year.

In recent years, the cluster development of Chinese sci-tech periodicals has been accelerated under the blessing of the platform. By 2023, the number of journals sponsored by China Academy of Sciences has reached more than 400, and the technical construction and resource gathering of its own SciEngine platform have begun to take shape, including nearly 450 journals and more than 390,000 papers, with a total download volume of more than 38 million times. The "China Clinical Case Achievement Database" established and operated by China Medical Magazine has covered readers from more than 30 countries around the world.

Photo courtesy of respondents

To build a world-class sci-tech periodical group, we expect more "plateaus" to rise. Zhang Tieming, a member of the Special Committee on Style Construction and Science Communication of the Science and Technology Commission of the Ministry of Education and chairman of the China University Sci-tech Periodical Research Association, said: "At present, the construction of domestic sci-tech periodicals lags behind the self-reliance of high-level science and technology, and there is still a big gap in the support and service role of periodicals for national scientific and technological innovation, which is also the status quo that periodical people are trying to change."

Confidence: China already has a world-class manuscript source and author group.

In 2022, the R&D expenditure of the whole society in China exceeded 3 trillion yuan for the first time, the R&D investment intensity exceeded 2.5% for the first time, and the proportion of basic research investment exceeded 6% for four consecutive years. Kuafu's exploration of the sun, Qinghai-Tibet expedition, micro-nano satellites, quantum transmission, proton therapy and a number of other major innovations have emerged one after another ... Today, China is not only an important participant in international frontier scientific and technological innovation, but also an important contributor to jointly solving global problems.

Schematic diagram of "Kuafu I". Photo courtesy of the satellite development team, issued by Xinhua News Agency

"China already has a world-class scientific and technological manuscript source, which will provide a manuscript source and author base for building a world-class academic journal." Yang Wei, an academician of China Academy of Sciences and director of the expert committee on the construction of world-class sci-tech periodicals, is full of confidence.

According to the Statistical Report of China Sci-tech Papers in 2023 released by China Institute of Science and Technology Information, in 2023, the number of the most influential periodical papers in various disciplines in China rose to the first place in the world for the first time, and the number of high-level international periodical papers and cited times ranked first in the world. This shows that the quality of scientific papers in China has jumped.

Facing the forefront of world science and technology, there is a universal and convenient reporting system for plants that can observe genetic transformation with naked eyes; Facing the main battlefield of economy, there are key technologies of intelligent networked vehicles; Facing the important needs of the country, there are new heat conductive shielding composites to reduce electromagnetic pollution; Facing people's life and health, there are experimental research results on screening candidate drugs against Covid-19 ... China's sci-tech journals are rapidly seizing the initiative in evaluating and recording these first-class results.

Photo courtesy of respondents

The state's policy support for sci-tech periodicals has promoted and guided the high-quality development of a number of sci-tech periodicals. Since the 21st century, relevant state departments have successively launched a series of special financial support projects, such as "Excellent Sci-tech Journals Project", "China Sci-tech Journals International Influence Enhancement Plan" and "China Sci-tech Journals Excellence Action Plan". Liu Xingping, Minister of Science and Technology Innovation Department of China Association for Science and Technology, pointed out at the 2023 China Journals High-quality Development Forum that from 2018 to 2022, after five years of development, 99 journals ranked in Q1 area (the top 25%) increased, 45 journals ranked in the top 5% and 28 journals ranked in the top three. Among them, 15 journals ranked first, and 4 journals had more than 30 impact factors, making them among the top 100 in the world.

Periodicals that once "borrowed ships" to go to sea are also exploring the road of returning to China to "build ships" independently. In December, 2022, Advanced Ceramics won the first place in the world for many times, ending its 11-year cooperation with Springer Nature Group and turning to SciOpen, a digital international publishing platform for academic journals independently developed by Tsinghua University Press.

"To do is to do world-class! It is not to be first-class behind closed doors, but to be first-class in the world. This is the concept of running a magazine that we practice together. " Shi Lei, deputy editor-in-chief of Tsinghua University Publishing House and director of the periodical center, told the reporter: "At present, there are 45 kinds of periodicals in Tsinghua University Science and Technology Periodical Group, and the published contents have covered 60% of the' double-class' disciplines in Tsinghua University, and have formed a certain publishing scale, brand characteristics and international influence in the fields of information science and nano-science. We must combine content clustering with platform intelligence and strive to make more contributions to the national high-level basic science support platform and the construction of an open innovation ecosystem. "

First-class disciplines, first-class journals and first-class scientists are forming a bond of coordinated development. "China Ocean University has 12 subjects in the top 1% of ESI, and at least two academic journals provide academic support for each subject field in our university's marine characteristic academic journal group, forming a relationship of integrated development and mutual support between featured and advantageous disciplines and academic journals." Yang Limin, president of the Journal Society of China Ocean University, said that it is such "concerted efforts" that the impact factor of Marine Life Science and Technology (English) has reached 5.7 in the four years since it was founded, ranking fifth in the world in the field of marine and freshwater biology.

Examples from both sides of Xiangjiang River can also be proved. Central South University has the most complete non-ferrous metal discipline chain in the world. Open the red cover of transactions of nonferrous metals society of china, and a long list of editors comes into view.

"In the 32 years since its publication, many academicians have been produced in this list. Now, almost all academicians in China's non-ferrous metal industry are on this list. World-class disciplines and scientists have given us the confidence to build a world-class sci-tech journal. " Yang Baohua, deputy director of Central South University Press, said.

Background: China sci-tech periodicals are in an important period when science and technology answer the questions of the times.

In 1898, the Curies discovered polonium, a new element, and they co-wrote a paper "On the new radioactive substances contained in pitchblende". They had already sent the manuscript back to the motherland before they voted for the publication of the Collection of Papers of the French Academy of Sciences, and published it in Polish in the monthly illustrated magazine Svay Artero in Warsaw, so that her compatriots could see the results at the first time.

In 1926, Tsinghua Sinology Research Institute and Flier Art Museum of the United States reached an agreement on the field archaeological excavation of Xiyin Village, Xiaxian County, Shanxi Province, presided over by Li Ji and Yuan Fuli, stipulating that the paper should be written in Chinese and English and published in academic journals in China and the United States, which was commendable at that time. Scientists' love for the motherland is deeply projected on the world-class scientific and technological achievements, and the spirit of scientists is deeply embedded in the bones of scientific and technological journals, which is still continuing today.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge has been opened for five years, which not only laid the foundation for the interconnection of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, but also created many firsts in the field of engineering technology in the world. "Academic papers focusing on' China Super Project' such as high-speed rail and bridges may not have a high citation rate, but they record the innovation achievements and research progress of first-line scientific and technological workers in China and solve some world-wide problems, which are of great concern internationally." Yang Baohua told reporters.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Xinhua News Agency reporter Chen Yuhua photo

"Based on the national conditions, facing the world, improving quality and surpassing first-class." Open the "Opinions", and the first part reads 16 words like this. When the development of science and technology is answering the question of the times, how should sci-tech periodicals be presented? Can sci-tech periodicals be upgraded from a platform for publishing and exchanging achievements to a basic platform for supporting national scientific and technological innovation?

In recent years, "Molecular Plants" sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Science of China Academy of Sciences is trying to make the cover of China's scientific research achievements and China elements together, so as to promote China's scientific research achievements and culture to the world at the same time. Journal of China Academy of Sciences, as the "business card" of the high-end think tank of China Academy of Sciences, has played a guiding and supporting role in the development of China Academy of Sciences and the formulation of national macro-strategy and decision-making. Journal of Aeronautics entered the front-line scientific research institutions, and planned and published dozens of heavy special issues or columns such as "special issue of large aircraft" and "special issue of space robots" around the "stuck neck" technology, which was highly recognized by the industry. Journal of Tsinghua University (Natural Science Edition) has organized special topics or special issues such as "Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge", "Intelligent Construction-Baihetan and wudongde hydropower station" and "Key Technologies in the Operation and Maintenance of FAST" to explore the way of "opening the door to run a journal" for university journals. "Coal Science and Technology" entered the production line of National Energy Group and Shandong Energy Group, and conducted more than 100 lectures on coal science and technology and training activities on writing scientific papers, helping to produce the first-line scientific and technological achievements ...

Photo courtesy of respondents

The road of building world-class sci-tech periodicals in China is slowly paving, which also affects more thinking. Researcher Zhou Zhonghe, an academician of China Academy of Sciences and a paleoornithologist, pointed out in Science Bulletin that for a long period of time, Chinese and English periodicals have different functions, so we should make clear our own positioning and fully consider which specific research has regional and cultural uniqueness.

Yang Baohua believes that scientific research adheres to the "four orientations", and many local problems solved by Chinese scientists are worldwide problems. The core competitiveness of journals should be determined by the originality, innovation and cutting-edge of their published papers, not by the language and country, which is the attitude and determination that both Chinese and English sci-tech journals in China should maintain.

Liu Xiaomin, Secretary-General of the Editorial Research Association of Natural Science Journals of China Academy of Sciences, told reporters that openness and communication are the innate essential attributes and cultural genes of science. The development of digital technology provides more ways to cross the language barrier. Both Chinese and English periodicals in China need to further enhance their adsorption capacity to domestic and foreign scholars, gather more outstanding scientific research achievements, improve independent and controllable academic communication channels, and spread them around the world so that scientific research achievements can benefit global development.

"China's sci-tech periodicals have made great achievements, but compared with our historical mission, time mission, scientific mission and national mission, we still have a long way to go." Pei Gang, an academician of China Academy of Sciences and former editor-in-chief of Cell Research, spoke at the round table of academicians of the 2023 Shanghai Science and Technology Journals High-quality Development Conference.

Bottom layer: make concerted efforts to continuously consolidate the foundation of building a world-class sci-tech journal.

During the interview, many people in the periodical industry talked about their own experiences: to build a world-class sci-tech periodical, the top priority is to improve the editorial quality and the professional level of editors; The foundation is the first-class talent support and kinetic energy incentive mechanism; The key is to innovate frontier attention and topic selection vision; The focus is on scientific expression and platform communication; The key is the professionalism and influence of evaluation; The essence is the leading force of innovation achievements and the adsorption force of paper publication.

The 18th China Sci-tech Journals Development Forum's Outstanding Journals Exhibition Site. Science and Technology Daily reporter Li Liu photo

According to the data provided by the Service Center of China Association for Science and Technology, in 2022, among the 442 English sci-tech periodicals in China, 403 were published on overseas platforms. "Single publications cooperate with international publishing groups, and most of them are in a dependent position. They have no initiative in high value-added links such as research and development and sales, and it is difficult to obtain large-scale development benefits." Qian Jiuhong, chairman of Youke Journal Publishing (Beijing) Co., Ltd. said frankly.

"It is inefficient and costly to increase the number of journals simply by gradually establishing new journals, and it is difficult to achieve the goal of rapid scale development." She suggested, "Strengthen the top-level design, promote the collectivization and intensive development of sci-tech periodicals from the national level, increase policy support for the clustering and collectivization development of publishing units, encourage cross-regional and cross-departmental publishing, and support periodical publishing units to find a correct position and explore an innovative model for the deep integration and development of resources."

"Good mechanism innovation will make the road wider." Cheng Zongming, editor-in-chief of Horticultural Research, suggested that first-class sci-tech periodicals should not only cultivate editors' initiative, but also have a sound incentive mechanism and broad room for growth, so as to make periodical editors feel more belonging. At the same time, China sci-tech periodicals should give consideration to both academic reputation and commercial value. In addition, he expects to improve the application of Chinese sci-tech periodicals in the evaluation of scientific research achievements.

Since 2018, Horticultural Research has begun to try to use social media to build an academic community and build an academic ecosystem based on high-quality journals. Today, five years later, the journal has built a group of mature academic exchange communities, and through the recruitment of cloud internship editors by the academic exchange communities, it explores and gradually guides the transformation and flow of scientific researchers from the identity of "reader-author-collaborative staff".

Photo courtesy of respondents

"There are 6 people in our editorial department, doing 3 publications. When the manpower is tight, we will innovate mechanisms to attract everyone to build their own autonomy. " Cheng Zongming introduced.

Wei Junmin, president of the magazine of the Chinese Medical Association, broke the bottleneck of the current development: "Excellent periodical publishing talents, especially compound periodical publishing talents and excellent English editors are relatively insufficient." According to the analysis of "Blue Book", 45% of journals in China have an average number of employees in the range of 4-7.

Periodical editors in China often have to do not only the front-end topic planning, but also the later publicity, from beginning to end. Yang Baohua pointed out that "without a professional division of labor and a perfect talent system, it is difficult for editors to give full play to their personal expertise advantages". Talent is the basic problem, and there are still many tests that China sci-tech periodicals have to face.

Among the cases to be selected for the 2023 Excellent Action Plan Outstanding Talents Case Selection and Compilation Project announced on November 23rd, there are many outstanding editors, including Mei Hong, Rao Zihe, Wang Enge and other academicians of China Academy of Sciences. The reporter was also delighted to see the outstanding managers of journals such as Science Bulletin, Forest Ecosystem and Engineering. The basic structure of periodical talents incubated by excellent projects has gradually become a system.

It is even more necessary to "make waves" when hitting the water in the middle stream. The transformation of scientific research paradigm in the new era requires periodical people to jointly create periodical ecology from the dimensions of integrity, openness and system. Zhang Xin, Secretary-General of China University Sci-tech Periodicals Research Association, believes that accelerating the construction of world-class sci-tech periodicals is the embodiment of cultural self-confidence, especially innovative cultural self-confidence, and innovative cultural self-confidence is the "spirit" of building an innovative country. It is understood that the 18th China Sci-tech Periodical Development Forum held in Nanjing on November 29th will focus on the theme of "open trust and cooperation-Sci-tech periodicals help high-level science and technology to stand on their own feet and strengthen themselves".

Live up to the "first-class" mission, and blaze a trail for sci-tech periodicals in China by paying attention to world-class scientific and technological achievements. Writing papers on the motherland, China's sci-tech periodicals are changing towards the goal of world-class sci-tech periodicals.

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