Scientific Developments

The scientific competitiveness of nations

Ranking of scientific domains from the extensive (left) and the intensive (right) matrix. The different symbols represent the five main branches of scientific domains: yellow circles for earth and life sciences, green triangles for engineering and technology, red diamonds for medical sciences, blue squares for physical and formal sciences, brown crosses for social sciences and humanities. For the approach of the extensive matrix, top domains belong to life sciences, immediately followed by earth sciences—with medicine and especially pharmacology also occupying top positions. For the approach of the intensive matrix, instead, social sciences and humanities as well as some medical sciences (nursing and health professions, in particular) now occupy top positions. This is due to the fact that these domains have overall a few number of citations and thus are more subject to noise and bias. However, this also depends on the fact that only very competitive and advanced nations develop a strong activity in these sophisticated domains. Thus we can include them among the good indicators for the R&D level of a nation.

Measuring the quality of research on national scale is of great interest to stakeholders and policy-makers for deciding on funding allocations and scientific priorities. While national scientific impact has been usually measured by shares of world citations (eventually relative to […]

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