China is fast becoming a scientific superpower and now ranks second only to the US in its share of published research, a study has revealed.
A decade ago the country was number six in the league table of authorship in recognised scientific journals.
Now it has ousted Japan as the second most prolific scientific nation, according to a report by the Royal Society, Britain's leading academic institution. The UK, meanwhile, has maintained its position in third place.
Science is also flourishing in Brazil, India and several countries in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa which until recently made little or no contribution to global research.
One of the big surprises in the report, entitled Knowledge, Networks And Nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century, is what has happened in Iran.
The Islamic nation has the fastest growth in scientific output in the world. Between 1996 and 2008, the number of research publications produced in Iran shot up from 736 to 13,238.
Iran has said it is committed to a "comprehensive plan for science" which will see research and development investment increased from less than 1% to 4% of its gross domestic product by 2030.
Despite fears of Iran's nuclear intentions, Iranian scientists were increasingly working with their counterparts in the US, and had even teamed up with colleagues in Israel.
The changes reflect an emerging new world order in science, emphasising collaboration between nations which have different areas of expertise.