Bibliographic databases are frequently used and analysed for the purpose of assessing the capacity and performance of individual researchers or entire research systems. Many of the advantages and disadvantages are the subject of continued discussion in the relevant literature, although only rarely with respect to the regional dimension of scientific publication activity. The importance of the regional dimension of science is reflected in many theoretical concepts, ranging from innovation system theories to territorial cluster concepts and learning regions. This article makes use of the extensive information found in bibliographic data and assesses the reliability of this information as a proxy indicator for the spatial dimension of scientific collaboration in emerging economies. This is undertaken using the example of the emerging field of biotechnology in China from 2000 onwards. Two data sets have been prepared: (1) the frequently used ISI Web of Knowledge database (SCI-Expanded) and (2) the domestic Chinese Chongqing VIP database. Both data sources were analysed using a variety of bibliometric and network scientific methods. The structural and topological similarity of networks, built from co-authorship data, is apparent between the two databases. At an abstract level, general network forces are present, resulting in similar network sizes, clustering, or assortativity. However, introducing additional complexity through regional subdivision reveals many differences between the two data sources that must be accounted for in the analytic design of future scientometric research in dynamic spaces.