Jing Wang

Journal quality in China

Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University, jing.wang@ru.nl

Supervisors: Dr Willem Halffman, Prof. Hub Zwart


I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a Master’s Degree in History of Science and Technology. In my master’s, I specialized in science and technology studies, and I’m interested in scientific misconduct through the sociology perspective. My master’s thesis investigated the balance between autonomy and accountability of science in China, try to see how a suitable governance model for science progress in centralism government should look like.

Summary PhD Project

Research quality has always been a hot issue globally. For China, metrics are applied widely as a way to stimulate research institutions and researchers’ productivity and innovation. This insistence on productivity indeed increased China’s share in the number of global scientific publications. However, it also creates negative effects, by valuing rapid publication output and quick research outcomes over high-quality research with long-term benefits.

My project aims to understand how the notion of research quality is framed in different countries, and in the Chinese publication system in particular. Whether it concerns research or researchers, it is not always easy to distinguish between good and bad, between good and better science, especially beyond expert peers. Research evaluation is complex, quality consists of many dimensions, and quality assessment is often contentious. Journals as the essential channel to present scientific achievements are hence often used as a proxy for the quality of research. Publication indicators are used as an intuitive proxy to express research quality, shifting the research quality problem at least partly to a problem of journal quality assessment: how research quality should be assessed and rewarded by journal quality.

My PhD project will mainly investigate how journal quality is governed in China. Journal indicators are an intuitive way to articulate the journal quality, for sorting journals into different quality levels. Therefore, the research is designed to investigate the mechanism of journal quality assessment. Research questions are: how journal indicators become established in China, how journal indicators as a quality proxy are performed for various secondary aims in China, and how journal quality is challenged in China. These practices help to further understand the quality notions of journals and different expectations of different actors on journal quality, and reveal the possible influence of journal quality on research quality and integrity issues.