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Beijing, the seat of science capital

When Zhu Dongqiang moved from Nanjing to Beijing five years ago, he continued applying for joint grants with his former colleagues, travelling 1,000 km south each summer for teahouse discussions about research ideas.

Nanjing University, where Zhu was a professor of environmental chemistry, is among the world’s best research institutions in the Earth and environmental sciences, but he was attracted to Peking University’s College of Urban and Environmental Sciences for its resources, its concentration of leading scientists, its location in the capital, and the offer of a fully tenured professorship.

Zhu’s move to Beijing placed him at the country’s science epicentre. Beijing’s position as the number one science city in the Nature Index is based on article output in 82 high-quality journals chosen by an independent group of researchers.

Collaboration between researchers based there and in Shanghai, which is ranked number five among Nature Index science cities, also makes Beijing and Shanghai the most productive city partnership in the index. In 2019, the two cities’ bilateral collaboration score (the sum of their Shares on joint articles) was more than 50% higher than the second most productive pair, New York and Boston.

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