Emerging countries take on traditional science bases

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China, Brazil, India and other countries are rivaling the traditional “scientific superpowers” of the USA, Western Europe and Japan in scientific output, according to a new report from the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.   

The report also identified some rapidly emerging scientific nations not traditionally associated with a strong science base, including Iran, Tunisia and Turkey.The report, Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century, analysed a wide variety of data, including trends in the number of scientific publications produced by all countries. It found that China’s growing share in the total number of articles published globally (10.2 per cent of articles published between 2004 and 2008) is now second only to that of the USA (21 per cent in the same period). 

The Royal Society report also analysed citation data. In both time periods, the USA leads the ranking, with the UK in second place.  However, both have a reduced share of global citations in 2004-2008, compared to 1999-2003. The rise of China is also shown in the data, although the rise does not mirror the rapidity of growth seen in the nation’s investment or publication output.

The report found that science is becoming increasingly global, with research undertaken in more and more places and to a greater extent than ever before. Over 35 per cent of articles published in international journals are internationally collaborative, which is up from 25 per cent 15 years ago.

Publication and citation data for the report was produced by and analysed in collaboration with scientific publisher Elsevier using Scopus citation and abstract data of global peer-reviewed literature.