Growing Chinese influence… ground engineering

  • Commending the technical excellence of Chinese geotechnical researchers

off the back of reading two fantastic papers in this month’s Géotechnique regarding deep cement-mixed clay (1) and defective jet-grouted cut-off walls (2) both of which were prepared with either lead or secondary authors from Wuhan University, we were discussing the anecdotal increase in Chinese authorship in our journal subscriptions. So we looked at little closer….

Using data from the Scimago Institutions Ranking, we compiled some charts outlining the growing influence of Chinese researchers using data from journal articles only in the Geotechnical Engineering & Engineering Geology space. The first chart below shows the sheer volume of citable articles produced by China which, since 2003, has surpassed the United States in overall volume produced and over the subsequent decade and a half has dwarfed the contribution of any other country, standing at over twice the volume of the United States and over nine times that of the UK. An effect, no doubt, of the amazing Chinese infrastructure drive over the last two decades. Get this: China aims to build 3,200km of high speed rail lines this year – that’s longer (in one year) than the entire existing length of the next largest high speed rail network (Spain’s). Simply phenomenal.

The second chart set below shows the number of citations per document – perhaps a crude measure of influence of the research. Here the likes of Australia, Italy and the UK are best-in-class but, looking at the Chinese data in particular, we can see that the research is converging with that of the United States (noting there is a lag between research being published and it being cited in subsequent research which is why all these data trend to zero the more recent the time horizon).

The last chart set shows the number of citations as a ratio of the number of self-citations (i.e. the geotechnical research being cited in subsequent research in the country from whence it came). This is perhaps maybe a crude measure of the international influence of the research and we can see here that the UK is still highly respected internationally having a consistently lower ratio that other countries over a long period. No doubt, the language in which research is published affects this measures significantly putting the UK at a distinct advantage, but we can see that China’s ratio is flat and trending to reduce – an indicator that it is slowly becoming more influential internationally. This is not the case for other countries.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us:


  1. Y. Liu, L. Q. He, Y. J. Jiang, M. M. Sun, E. J. Chen, F.-H. Lee (2019) Effect of in situ water content variation on the spatial variation of strength of deep cement-mixed clay. Géotechnique. Volume 69 Issue 5, May, 2019, pp. 391-405
  2. Y. Pan, Y. Liu, E. J. Chen (2019) Probabilistic investigation on defective jet-grouted cut-off wall with random geometric imperfections. Géotechnique.  Volume 69 Issue 5, May, 2019, pp. 391-405

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