Article Abstract

Scientific publishing in different countries: what simple numbers do not tell

Authors: Giuseppe Lippi, Camilla Mattiuzzi


Background: The evaluation of scientific productivity is a well-established approach for assessing the quality of scientific activity of a single scientist, of a team of scientists, as well as of a university or a country.
Methods: In this article, we aim to provide an update analysis of scientific publishing of the eight countries, seven of which belonging to the so-called “G7” (i.e., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US) plus China. The scientific output has then been normalized for the number of inhabitants and for the gross domestic product (GDP).
Results: For the total number of publications, the US occupies the first position in the ranking, followed by China and UK. When the national scientific production is reported as number of publications for inhabitants, the UK and Canada are at the top of the ranking. Finally, when the national scientific production is reported in terms of number of publications for GDP, China is at the first place followed by the US.
Conclusions: This analysis shows that the use of the total number of publications as the only index for assessing the quality of the scientific production of a single country may be misleading.