Research Fronts 2022, that year’s edition of an annual report jointly developed by the Institutes of Science and Development of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASISD), the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Clarivate, was released on December 27, 2022 at a joint online forum in Beijing.

The report starts with 12,610 Research Fronts in Essential Science Indicators (ESI) provided by Clarivate from 2016 to 2021, and aims to discover which Research Fronts were most active or developing most rapidly. Scientists at CASISD analyzed the Research Fronts in great depth and interpreted them to highlight 32 key Research Fronts and one key Research Fronts group.

“Nowadays profound changes unseen in a century are evolving rapidly in the world and a new round of S&T revolution and industrial change is booming. We need to strengthen openness and cooperation in science and technology, to explore ways and means of jointly solving important global issues through S&T innovation, and to address the challenges of the times together,” said Gao Hongjun, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in his opening remarks for the forum.

CAS has carried out a series of strategic research projects with foresight in science and technology (S&T) development targeting at practical problems, playing an increasingly important role in serving scientific decision-making, solving governance problems, and improving the innovation system, according to Gao.

Since its establishment in 2016, CASISD has been actively promoting the construction of think tanks from specialization and scientification towards disciplinization, aiding the formation of “think tank science and engineering” and playing a leading and exemplary role in the national high-end think tank construction.

Research Fronts are formed when clusters of highly cited papers are frequently grouped together, reflecting a specific commonality in the research — perhaps experimental data, a method, a concept, or a hypothesis. The Research Fronts 2022 report identified 165 Research Fronts, including 110 hot and 55 emerging ones in 11 broad areas in all of scientific work.

Pan Jiaofeng, President of CASISD, analyzed the recent development trends and key research issues in the 11 broad research areas in his speech.

According to Pan, Research Fronts 2022 reflects eight trends in scientific research: artificial intelligence enables all disciplines and creates new paradigms for scientific research; the major challenges posed by COVID-19 have become a powerful driver for scientific research in many disciplines; major breakthroughs in earth science will remain the main S&T support for “energy security” for a period of time; the solution of “food security” and “health problems” requires an open scientific program in “basic research on genome technology”; the exploration of the macrocosm and the habitable earth reveals a unified picture of the earth system; deep space exploration and micro regulation continue to expand the boundaries of the material science knowledge system; mathematical research has solved the problems of the century and removed the mathematical logic bottleneck in various disciplines; and complex frontier issues that challenge the limits of human cognition are increasingly breaking the boundaries of natural science, engineering and social science.

In conjunction with the Research Fronts 2022 report, 2022 Research Fronts: Active Fields, Leading Countries was also published, which assess the research activity of the world’s major countries. Based on each country’s respective performance in the 165 constituent Research Fronts, the US is the most active, followed by China. Both have a solid position. The UK and Germany rank third and fourth on the second tier.

Of the 11 broad research areas, seven are led by the US, namely “Geosciences”, “Clinical medicine”, “Biological sciences”, “Astronomy and astrophysics”, “Mathematics”, “Information science”, and “Economics, psychology and other social sciences”. China tops the world in four areas: “Agricultural, plant and animal sciences”, “Ecology and environmental sciences”, “Chemistry and materials science”, and “Physics”, but with “Clinical medicine” and “Astronomy and astrophysics” being relatively weak areas.

“The report will guide the global researchers to look into the future research and to support and advance the conduct of research in the face of finite resources,” said Steen Lomholt-Thomsen, Chief Revenue Officer of Clarivate, in his video remark.

Source: Institutes of Science and Development,

Chinese Academy of Sciences

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