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I came across yet another infogram, originating from this Nature article, showing the top-40 countries in terms of scientific publications produced for 2011.

enter image description here

The data are based on publications from Thompson Reuters/Web of Science. Similar data are available from Scimago (spanning 1996–2012).

Presented this way, there's some "bias" towards countries with a larger population. I was thus wondering if statistics on the number of scientific publications per capita was available for countries?

... just out of curiosity.

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What does it even mean? I (UK) just submitted a paper with three UK co-authors and one Japanese; last week, I submitted one with one UK co-author and two Spanish. Does that give 1.3 papers to the UK, 0.5 to Spain and 0.2 to Japan? (Well, if they're accepted, anyway.) –  David Richerby Mar 31 at 23:23
    
@DavidRicherby, my understanding of the Scimago statistics is that it would count as one paper for UK, one for Spain and one for Japan. –  badroit Apr 1 at 5:49
2  
On a side note, I'd appreciate some feedback being left alongside the downvote(s). –  badroit Apr 1 at 5:50
1  
In that case, the number of "papers" in the Scimago statistics must dramatically exceed the number of papers that were written! –  David Richerby Apr 1 at 7:17
2  
These are all very interesting numbers, so from a mathematics POV it's certainly entertaining. However, if we were to draw qualitative conclusions from our results ('area XY is better at research' etc), we might be following the wrong trail. I think it's fair to say that a research paper isn't exactly as important, ground-breaking, influential, ingenious as another paper. Quality matters. Qualitative conclusions would be a whole different story... –  user13585 Apr 1 at 12:10
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2 Answers 2

up vote 24 down vote accepted
  1. Taking the data from Scimago for number of publications in Scopus for each country including the years 1996–2012 (Pubs), and
  2. taking the 2012 populations for countries from Worldbank (Pop), and
  3. writing a small script to join on country name and curating the subsequent results,

... we get the following (edit: note that the list scrolls down!):

No...Country.......................Pubs/Pop
1....Switzerland...................0.04948049
2....Sweden........................0.03949838
3....Denmark.......................0.03724673
4....Finland.......................0.03512776
5....Iceland.......................0.03384176
6....Netherlands...................0.03266005
7....Norway........................0.03235590
8....Monaco........................0.03153357
9....United Kingdom................0.03034517
10...Australia.....................0.03013565
11...New Zealand...................0.02928470
12...Canada........................0.02848185
13...Israel........................0.02841134
14...Singapore.....................0.02814340
15...Belgium.......................0.02684193
16...Austria.......................0.02538793
17...Slovenia......................0.02456816
18...Liechtenstein.................0.02302488
19...Ireland.......................0.02280205
20...United States.................0.02250084
21...Germany.......................0.02177218
22...France........................0.01953477
23...Spain.........................0.01643973
24...Greece........................0.01601820
25...Italy.........................0.01575377
26...Czech Republic................0.01557232
27...Estonia.......................0.01429077
28...Japan.........................0.01392641
29...Croatia.......................0.01346473
30...Portugal......................0.01319425
31...Luxembourg....................0.01267497
32...Korea.........................0.01157157
33...Hungary.......................0.01128115
34...Greenland.....................0.01071429
35...Cyprus........................0.00913291
36...Poland........................0.00899290
37...Lithuania.....................0.00829172
38...Bermuda.......................0.00745301
39...Faeroe Islands................0.00668606
40...Bulgaria......................0.00620812
41...New Caledonia.................0.00605143
42...Malta.........................0.00601626
43...Grenada.......................0.00528995
44...Palau.........................0.00510745
45...Latvia........................0.00497760
46...Romania.......................0.00432618
47...Kuwait........................0.00423781
48...Barbados......................0.00421932
49...Turkey........................0.00414781
50...Russian Federation............0.00408719
51...Serbia........................0.00399812
52...Chile.........................0.00394931
53...San Marino....................0.00374436
54...Seychelles....................0.00373640
55...Guam..........................0.00360543
56...Tunisia.......................0.00355685
57...French Polynesia..............0.00341107
58...Malaysia......................0.00339218
59...Brunei Darussalam.............0.00326268
60...Armenia.......................0.00315417
61...Jordan........................0.00314134
62...Lebanon.......................0.00309093
63...Puerto Rico...................0.00305665
64...Cayman Islands................0.00297030
65...Argentina.....................0.00288041
66...Qatar.........................0.00282271
67...Uruguay.......................0.00281334
68...Trinidad and Tobago...........0.00279863
69...Macedonia.....................0.00273227
70...Iran..........................0.00265369
71...Belarus.......................0.00262056
72...Oman..........................0.00247495
73...Bahrain.......................0.00247073
74...South Africa..................0.00244784
75...Ukraine.......................0.00241902
76...Brazil........................0.00232119
77...Cuba..........................0.00218313
78...Dominica......................0.00216227
79...Saudi Arabia..................0.00208004
80...United Arab Emirates..........0.00206949
81...American Samoa................0.00204978
82...China.........................0.00198446
83...Montenegro....................0.00175661
84...Fiji..........................0.00174223
85...Botswana......................0.00172363
86...Georgia.......................0.00166009
87...Virgin Islands (U.S.).........0.00164332
88...Tuvalu........................0.00152130
89...Mexico........................0.00137863
90...Costa Rica....................0.00135080
91...Andorra.......................0.00132721
92...Jamaica.......................0.00128646
93...Moldova.......................0.00127910
94...Thailand......................0.00123095
95...Marshall Islands..............0.00119874
96...Bosnia and Herzegovina........0.00116017
97...Egypt.........................0.00110861
98...Mauritius.....................0.00110573
99...Samoa.........................0.00093706
100..Panama........................0.00093654
101..Northern Mariana Islands......0.00091924
102..Gabon.........................0.00091696
103..Venezuela.....................0.00090597
104..Turks and Caicos Islands......0.00089432
105..Vanuatu.......................0.00086952
106..Antigua and Barbuda...........0.00084204
107..Gambia........................0.00084188
108..Morocco.......................0.00083801
109..Azerbaijan....................0.00080366
110..Tonga.........................0.00077186
111..Mongolia......................0.00076525
112..Colombia......................0.00075234
113..Belize........................0.00069432
114..Bahamas.......................0.00069362
115..Algeria.......................0.00066821
116..Namibia.......................0.00064132
117..India.........................0.00060709
118..Swaziland.....................0.00056459
119..Guyana........................0.00053183
120..Albania.......................0.00048797
121..Congo.........................0.00047290
122..Sri Lanka.....................0.00040530
123..Solomon Islands...............0.00040393
124..Maldives......................0.00039889
125..Bhutan........................0.00039767
126..Aruba.........................0.00039069
127..Kenya.........................0.00038740
128..Zimbabwe......................0.00038282
129..Senegal.......................0.00036806
130..Suriname......................0.00035732
131..Cameroon......................0.00034761
132..Kazakhstan....................0.00033660
133..Pakistan......................0.00032448
134..Peru..........................0.00029889
135..Ecuador.......................0.00029486
136..Ghana.........................0.00026906
137..Uzbekistan....................0.00025359
138..Benin.........................0.00025232
139..Bolivia.......................0.00024428
140..Nigeria.......................0.00024256
141..Papua New Guinea..............0.00023985
142..Nepal.........................0.00022093
143..Malawi........................0.00021098
144..Burkina Faso..................0.00020486
145..Uganda........................0.00020330
146..Sao Tome and Principe.........0.00020202
147..Guinea-Bissau.................0.00019536
148..Vietnam.......................0.00018557
149..Zambia........................0.00018529
150..Iraq..........................0.00017914
151..Syrian Arab Republic..........0.00017648
152..Tanzania......................0.00016707
153..Nicaragua.....................0.00016106
154..Lesotho.......................0.00015549
155..Djibouti......................0.00015471
156..Togo..........................0.00015159
157..Equatorial Guinea.............0.00014804
158..Paraguay......................0.00014026
159..Philippines...................0.00013611
160..El Salvador...................0.00012751
161..Bangladesh....................0.00012593
162..Mali..........................0.00011910
163..Kiribati......................0.00011906
164..Tajikistan....................0.00010988
165..Sudan.........................0.00010700
166..Cambodia......................0.00010468
167..Guatemala.....................0.00010131
168..Madagascar....................0.00010097
169..Mauritania....................0.00009194
170..Central African Republic......0.00008817
171..Ethiopia......................0.00008738
172..Honduras......................0.00008720
173..Comoros.......................0.00008223
174..Indonesia.....................0.00008169
175..Rwanda........................0.00007864
176..Yemen.........................0.00007203
177..Niger.........................0.00006895
178..Dominican Republic............0.00006860
179..Eritrea.......................0.00006035
180..Mozambique....................0.00005971
181..Sierra Leone..................0.00005720
182..Haiti.........................0.00004305
183..Turkmenistan..................0.00004156
184..Timor-Leste...................0.00004131
185..Guinea........................0.00003336
186..Burundi.......................0.00002853
187..Liberia.......................0.00002792
188..Chad..........................0.00002249
189..Angola........................0.00002123
190..Myanmar.......................0.00002040
191..Afghanistan...................0.00001626
192..Somalia.......................0.00000589

Countries missed by the join ...

Population not found for following countries mentioned w/publications:
 Anguilla
 Bouvet Island
 British Indian Ocean Territory
 Cape Verde
 Christmas Island
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands
 Cook Islands
 Côte d'Ivoire
 Democratic Republic Congo
 Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
 Federated States of Micronesia
 French Guiana
 French Southern Territories
 Gibraltar
 Guadeloupe
 Heard Island and McDonald Islands
 Hong Kong
 Kyrgyzstan
 Laos
 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
 Macao
 Martinique
 Mayotte
 Montserrat
 Nauru
 Netherlands Antilles
 Niue
 Norfolk Island
 North Korea
 Palestine
 Reunion
 Saint Helena
 Saint Kitts and Nevis
 Saint Lucia
 Saint Pierre and Miquelon
 Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
 Slovakia
 South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands
 Svalbard and Jan Mayen
 Taiwan
 Tokelau
 United States Minor Outlying Islands
 Vatican City State
 Virgin Islands (British)
 Wallis and Futuna
 Western Sahara

Publications not found for following countries mentioned w/populations:
 Cabo Verde
 Cote d'Ivoire
 Curacao
 Hong Kong SAR
 Isle of Man
 Kosovo
 Kyrgyz Republic
 Lao PDR
 Libya
 Macao SAR
 Micronesia
 Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
 Slovak Republic
 South Sudan
 St. Kitts and Nevis
 St. Lucia
 St. Martin (French part)
 St. Vincent and the Grenadines
 West Bank and Gaza
share|improve this answer
4  
+1, you followed up on your question with own research. I'd be very interested in actually seeing a rank curve (at least for the top 20 or so). Also, isn't this now slightly biased towards countries with a small population (Liechtenstein comes to mind)? I guess it's hard to find data on the number of researchers, because that's the part of the population that produces these articles... –  tschoppi Mar 31 at 20:10
1  
Scimago also offers the numbers for just one year. Since populations (and also the number of publications) change, I think it would be better to just compare it for one year (say, 2012) in both data sets. –  tschoppi Mar 31 at 20:17
1  
@DavidRicherby, I think the wording needs to be a little bit more careful: certainly 1-in-20 Swiss people did not publish a paper. Rather over the sixteen-year period defined, Swiss-affiliated researchers co-authored a number of papers equivalent to one-twentieth of the Swiss population. In other words, the number of Swiss-affiliated papers indexed by Scopus from 1996–2012 divided by the Swiss population in 2012 roughly equals 1/20. –  badroit Apr 1 at 5:45
5  
@tschoppi: no, there likely is no small country bias. What we see here is that small populations go along with high variances in paper output per capita. So small countries are disproportionally likely to end up at the top of such rankings... as well as at the bottom. The same effect appears if you look at cancer incidence. The 20 US counties with the highest incidence of a specific cancer are usually among the least populated - and so are the 20 counties with the lowest incidence of this particular cancer. Correcting for this effect is not easy. –  Stephan Kolassa Apr 1 at 15:48
2  
@tschoppi, the small/large class room analogy doesn't fit ... that's a very specific phenomenon about the effect of class room size on education. To illustrate the core point Stephan was making, the pop. of Tuvalu is 9,860. They published 15 papers over 16 years. But if they had even a small research group (e.g., four people publishing three distinct papers a year for sixteen years), Tuvalu would be top of the list. Within small populations, small outliers can cause a large overall effect. Another example might be IMDb movies with fewer than 1000 votes tending to be more extreme. –  badroit Apr 1 at 19:28
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Supplementing badroit's answer (my point is not to use different source, but to show at the same time total and per capita data).

Taking data World Bank Open Data for Population and Scientific and technical journal articles, for year 2009 (for newer there is no up-to-data publication data), and using a short Python script, we get:

Bar chart of top 50 countries with most publications per capita

Only top 50 countries are shown.

  • Height: publications per capita per year (in 2009),
  • Width: country population,
  • Area: total publication count per year (in 2009).

Source code: on IPython Notebook Viewer, on GitHub Gist. (Quick and dirty, be warned.)

share|improve this answer
    
Very nice! Thanks for that. –  badroit Apr 1 at 19:29
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