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Global science standings

In a new study of scientific standing among nations, the United States leads the world in scientific wealth, although many European countries are closing the gap. The study — published in the July 15 Nature by David King, the United Kingdom’s chief science adviser — uses the number of published research papers and their citations as a measure of scientific impact. The United States produces more than 60 percent of the top 1 percent of the most frequently cited papers. But the United States falls behind when comparing scientific output to the fraction of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research.

The United Kingdom and Canada perform better — in essence, “getting more bang for the buck.” The study suggests that cuts in government funding from 1980 to 1995 helped the United Kingdom narrow its scientific focus and build relationships with industry that are now coming to fruition (see feature). King’s study also highlights continued global inequalities in the distribution of scientific wealth, including poor scientific standing among the African countries, barring South Africa. According to King’s classification, Iran is the only Islamic country to make any appreciable scientific contribution, despite the large GDP of other Islamic countries.

Jay Chapman
Geotimes intern


Link:
"Assessing University Research, the British Way," Geotimes, September 2004

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