Understanding the growing contributions of China to leading international higher education journals

Kai ZHAO*, Huiqing LIANG, Jiali LI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


International publications in social sciences by scholars based in mainland China have been increasing in volume, but little is known about the characteristics of China’s contribution. This study examines the characteristics and patterns of international publications by Chinese scholars in higher education research. Data from three internationalized higher education journals were analyzed from 2000 to 2022. The results show a consistent pattern of continuous growth in the annual number of published articles with Chinese affiliations, with a marked increase since 2016. International collaborations are the most common type of publication, a pattern that contrasts with other articles in the same journal. In addition, returnee scholars have made significant contributions to international publications. Finally, the research of Chinese scholars is as influential as that of their international peers in terms of citation counts. These findings highlight the constrained agency of Chinese actors in the center-periphery structure of the global knowledge production networks.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalHigher Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).


  • HIgher education research
  • Center-periphery model
  • Agency
  • Internationalization
  • China
  • Higher education research


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