Andre points us to SciImago — a Web site to mine science journals. Using their aggregates per country and some data from Wikipedia, I made up a table on number of science papers produced per country going back to 1996.

Country Science papers (1996-2006) Population (current) Papers per capita
US 3,437,213 303,202,683 0.011
Japan 983,020 127,718,000 0.0077
UK 962,640 60,587,300 0.015
Germany 888,287 82,251,000 0.010
China 758,042 1,323,128,240 0.00057
France 640,163 64,102,140 0.010
Canada 473,763 33,148,682 0.014
Italy 461,292 59,206,382 0.0077
Spain 330,399 45,116,894 0.0073
India 286,109 1,131,043,000 0.00025
Sweden 194,921 9,174,082 0.021
Switzerland 188,134 7,508,700 0.025
Israel 120,257 7,222,222 0.0166
Norway 70,314 4,738,085 0.015

What is fascinating is that the picture changes dramatically if you just look at the most recent year (2006):

Country Science papers (2006) Population (current) Papers per capita
US 340,268 303,202,683 0.0011
China 166,205 1,323,128,240 0.000125
UK 107,528 60,587,300 0.0018
Japan 97,073 127,718,000 0.00076
Germany 95,310 82,251,000 0.0012
France 67,652 64,102,140 0.0011
Canada 56,571 33,148,682 0.0017
Italy 54,298 59,206,382 0.0009
Spain 41,914 45,116,894 0.0009
India 38,140 1,131,043,000 tiny
Switzerland 22,966 7,508,700 0.003
Sweden 20,926 9,174,082 0.002
Israel 13,049 7,222,222 0.0018
Norway 8,670 4,738,085 0.0018

These numbers suggest some significant changes:

  • The US is still leading in the number of papers produced, but it no longer dominates. And it may not lead for many more decades if China keeps this up.
  • Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Spain and Italy are improving their per capita numbers.
  • Switzerland has a surprisingly high number of papers per capita.
  • Japan has a surprisingly low number of papers per capita.

6 Comments

  1. This is an unequal comparison – you cannot compare one years scientific publication total & current population with 10 years of publication and the _current_ population – the figure would need to be an aggregate of the publication ratio per capita per year now (averaged over 10) to produce a valid comparison.

    Otherwise you are just saying: look! here’s how many people today would publish per person if they had been publishing for ten years in the space of one year, vs. Look, here’s how many we actually publish in one year!

    M.

    Comment by Martin — 11/1/2008 @ 5:34

  2. Thanks Martin. I was aware of this limitation. If you can pull out the numbers, I will gladly update my tables.

    Comment by Daniel Lemire — 11/1/2008 @ 7:53

  3. Japan a surprisingly small number? I’m not sure they have included all the local publications! It’s more a problem of their database than a problem of Japan.

    Also, I am very skeptical of claims that more publications corresponds to more science. More publications given the same amount of intelligence corresponds to more bullshit.

    Comment by Aleks — 11/1/2008 @ 10:42

  4. Who claimed that more publications corresponds to more science?

    I did no such thing.

    Comment by Daniel Lemire — 11/1/2008 @ 12:09

  5. Per capita data is not important. It is not about money. Papers reflect the whole country. Big population has some advantage.

    Comment by Anonymous — 21/1/2008 @ 16:57

  6. Probably you will be intersting in this … its about Journals of OR..but still its pretty intersting
    http://dsslab.cs.unipi.gr/mejds/map/

    Comment by Eponimous — 16/6/2011 @ 1:29

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