Country H-index Ranking for Science Publications

Posted on January 9, 2014  Comments (2)

The SCImago Journal and Country Rank provides journal and country scientific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus database (this site also lets you look at these ranking by very specific categories (I think 313 categories), for example biotechnology #1 USA, #2 Germany, #3 UK, #4 Japan, #9 China or Theoretical Computer Science #1 USA, #2 UK, #3 Canada, #6 China). I posted about this previously (in 2008 and 2011) and take a look at the updated picture in this post.

I like looking at data and country comparisons but in doing so it is wise to remember this is the results of a calculation that is interesting but hardly definative. We don’t have the ability to have exact numbers on haw the true scientific knowledge output by countries are. I think you can draw the conclusion that the USA is very influential, and along with other data make the case even that the USA is the leading scientific publication center.

The table shows the top 6 countries by h-index and then some others I chose to list.

Country h-index 2007
% of World
% of World GDP total cites

1,389 793     4.4%   22.4% 129,540,193
United Kingdom

851 465  0.9  3.4 31,393,290

740 408  1.2  4.7  25,848,738
France 681 376  0.9  3.6  5,795,531
Canada 658 370  0.5  2.5 15,696,168
Japan 635 372  1.8  8.2 20,343,377
Additional countries of interest
16) China 385 161  19.2  11.3  11,253,119
19) South Korea 343 161    .7  1.8  4,640,390
22) Brazil 305 148  2.8  3.1 3,362,480
24) India 301 146  17.6  2.5 4,528,302

The case for the UK being second may be decent but I could also see arguing they are no different than say the 5th most influential country. This ranking is not like lining up 10 people by height that are obviously in order (say each person is at least 3 inches taller than the next person).

This data makes a good case for the USA, UK, Germany… producing a very high level of very influential science publications. Whether Italy (#7) is obviously more influential than Brazil (#22) or India (#24) I think is fairly questionable. Also the method has a fairly high lag, I believe, so if a country is gaining influence rapidly the h-index will take longer to have that show up. Based on the calculation used Italy is 7th but whether the calculation makes meaningful differentiation between 7th and 24th, for example, I question.

Read more about the h-index (Hirsh index). Country population and GDP data taken World Development Indicators 2012, by the World Bank.

Without doing any analysis it seems to me the data shows that scientific influence is heavily correlated with GDP (and also GDP per capita). Also while GDP changes (for a country as a percent of world GDP) generally are fairly slow (China’s may not be but nearly everyone else is) I would guess scientific influences is even slower to change – but it will change in a fashion correlated with relative GDP. Scientific influence isn’t just the outcome of high GDP.

My belief is there is a system reinforcing effect, greater GDP allows more scientific research (and investing in universities, etc.) which increase economic growth down the road, which provides more income to invest in scientific research and so on. This also moves in reverse, if the economy slows down and cuts are made to science and engineering research that will have a negative impact on the economy over the long term. This is my opinion, rather than something I have analyzed data to make my case.

As with most anything related to human systems this isn’t a straight formula (that is there is no increase h-index by 10% and GDP goes up by 5% benefit). Some countries, the USA for example, are more effective at turning scientific research into GDP gains. Where countries are more effective at doing so it reinforces investing in science. It also encourages leading scientists interested in business applications to be tempted to move to the USA which then helps the USA scientific influence and so on.

While the USA has been doing numerous things to decrease the advantages the USA has (in science and in attracting talent globally) they still are far in the lead it seems to me. It helps the USA that other countries, by and large, are doing a lousy job to capitalize on all the USA’s missteps (though China is making very big strides in the right direction they still have a very long way to go, Scandinavian counties seem to be doing more good things than most others).

Related: Top Countries for Science and Math Education: Finland, Hong Kong and KoreaWorldwide Science and Engineering Doctoral Degree DataViews on Evolution by CountryTop 10 Manufacturing Countries 2011Chart of Wind Power Generation Capacity Globally 2005-2012Diplomacy, Science Research and Economics

2 Responses to “Country H-index Ranking for Science Publications”

  1. Jimmy Carter
    January 10th, 2014 @ 4:44 am

    i believe India and China are fast improving and USA will become stagnant in coming years.

  2. Ranking Countries by Scientific Publication Citations: USA, UK, Germany… » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    January 19th, 2015 @ 1:45 am

    […] interaction #1 USA, #2 Germany, #3 UK #4 Japan, #13 China). I posted about this previously (in 2014, 2011 and […]

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