Data released this week by Thomson Scientific, the global scientific community’s chief reference point for measuring research performance, show that on a per capita basis, Australia and Canada are neck and neck in leading the world in research publication output.

While the US blitzes everyone with number of papers published (3.7 times more than the second highest volume nation, Japan), when adjusted for population, the US slips to fourth, being 21% less productive than Australia and Canada on a per capita basis.

Table 1: QUANTITY: Country Total Research Papers (all fields), 1996-2006

Total papers 1996-2006

Population 2005 (m)

Papers per capita & (ranking)

USA

2,907,592

299,846

0.00970 (4)

Japan

790,510

127,897

0.00618 (8)

Germany

742,917

82,652

0.00899 (5)

UK

660,808

60,245

0.01097 (3)

France

535,629

60,991

0.00878 (6)

China

422,993

1,312,979

0.00032 (12)

Canada

394,727

32,271

0.01223 (1)

Italy

369,138

58,646

0.00629 (7)

Spain

263,469

43,397

0.00607 (9)

Australia

248,189

20,310

0.01222 (2)

India

211,063

1,134,403

0.00019 (13)

South Korea

180,329

47,870

0.00377 (11)

Taiwan

124,940

22,859

0.00545 (10)

The key measure of research quality is the number of times other researchers cite a paper. Well over half of all papers published are never cited by anyone. Table 2 shows that the US blitzes the field in having more than 5.4 times as many papers in the “top 1% most cited” list, and keeps its lead when adjustment is made for population size. Australia ranks seventh in the number of papers in the top 1%, but moves to fourth when adjusted for population size.

Table 2: QUALITY: Papers per country in top 1% most cited

Top 1% most cited

Population 2005 (m)

Papers per capita & (ranking)

USA

54,516

299,846

0.1818 (1)

UK

10,090

60,245

0.1675 (2)

Germany

9,427

82,652

0.1141 (5)

France

5,967

60,991

0.0978 (6)

Japan

5,662

127,897

0.0443 (9)

Canada

5,301

32,271

0.1643 (3)

Italy

3,825

58,646

0.0652 (6)

Australia

2,804

20,310

0.1381 (4)

China

2,189

1,312,979

0.0016 (11)

Spain

2,155

43,397

0.0497 (7)

South Korea

929

47,870

0.0194 (10)

India

694

1,134,403

0.0006 (12)

Taiwan

550

22,859

0.0241 (9)

 

Calculated from Thomson scientific figures and 2005 population data here.

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