Publish or perish? A tale of academic publications in Chinese universities

Ying Tie, Zheng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study examines academic resource (mis)allocation in China by focusing on the correlation between publication in leading economics journals in China and researchers' subsequent academic performance. Our findings demonstrate that researchers with a track record of publication in the most exclusive academic outlets publish more papers in high quality journals, with an average 12.4% increase, as they move up the career ladder, obtain more external grants, and acquire more executive powers. As the observable channels fail to explain most of the publication persistence, the increase in the research productivity along a researcher's career trajectory is attributed to other mechanisms that are suggestive of resource misallocation, including a reputation effect gained from initial visibility in leading academic outlets and non-academic channels facilitated by better access to social resources, among other mechanisms. Our findings depict some intriguing observations regarding the ecosystem of a prominent subject in Chinese academia and reveal tentative evidence on how structural changes, such as fostering a more open and international research environment, could benefit early career researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101769
Number of pages18
JournalChina Economic Review
Early online date12 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • China
  • Matthew effect
  • Publications
  • Resource misallocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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