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The Global Citation Race

The Global Citation Race
June 10, 2010

The average number of citations gained by British research papers is now almost as high as that gained by U.S. papers, according to new ­figures.

The data, produced exclusively for Times Higher Education by Thomson Reuters, rank each of the G7 countries in 20 scientific subjects based on the average number of times each paper produced in that country was cited between 2005 and 2009. The U.K. is first in six subjects and is no lower than third in any. The U.S. is top in 10 subjects, but its ­aver­age rank is only slightly higher than the U.K.’s. Japan is the lowest-ranked G7 country on average.

David Pendlebury, citation ­analyst at Thomson Reuters, said that if he were a British policy­maker he would be encouraged by the ­results. “The U.K. has really improved in research performance in the past decade,” he said.

In space science, the U.S. ranked fourth behind Canada, the U.K. and Germany. This is no fluke, Pendlebury said. Canada’s research­ers "collaborate on many big international research projects and it also has a number of institutes that produce more than their share of high-impact papers," he added.

Martin Barstow, professor of ­astro­physics and space science at the University of Leicester, said he was pleased to see his perception of the high quality of British research reinforced. “But basic citations are quite crude statistics since they take no account of the volume of activity in the subfield,” he added.

Graham Woan, reader in astrophysics at the University of Glasgow, warned that citation statistics could be skewed: “The metric used to project the raw data on to a ranking does much to define the rank order, and it is maybe only loosely coupled to the true scientific vigor and quality of a country.”

Citation Rank for G7 Nations

Field Canada France Germany Italy Japan U.K. U.S.
Agricultural sciences 2 4 6 5 7 1 3
Biochemistry 4 5 3 6 7 2 1
Chemistry 4 6 3 5 7 2 1
Clinical medicine 1 6 5 4 7 3 2
Computer science 4 5 2 6 7 3 1
Economics / business 3 5 4 6 7 2 1
Engineering 5 3 2 6 7 3 1
Ecology / environment 4 5 2 6 7 1 3
Geosciences 5 4 3 7 6 1 2
Immunology 6 4 5 7 3 2 1
Materials science 6 4 3 5 7 2 1
Mathematics 6 2 4 5 7 3 1
Microbiology 5 4 3 6 7 2 1
Molecular biology 5 4 3 6 7 1 2
Neurosciences 4 5 3 6 7 1 2
Pharmacology 3 4 5 6 7 1 2
Physics 4 5 3 6 7 2 1
Plant / animal sciences 5 3 2 7 6 1 4
Psychiatry / psychology 3 6 5 4 7 2 1
Space sciences 1 5 3 6 7 2 4
Average across fields 4.00 4.45 3.45 5.75 6.70 1.85 1.75

 

 

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