Global Science and Technology Capabilities

The 28 nations that make up the EU collectively have the highest output of S&E publications globally. China’s S&E publication output ranks next, followed by the United States. The citation impact of China’s publications is rising rapidly, although it is currently lower than that of the United States and the EU. With respect to industrial output between 2003 and 2018, the U.S. share of worldwide value-added output declined for R&D-intensive industries even though the U.S. level of output rose.

Research Publications

R&D produces new knowledge. The EU, China, United States, India, Japan, and South Korea together produce more than 70% of the worldwide refereed S&E publications (Figure 21). As with the worldwide trends for degrees awarded and R&D spending, the output of peer-reviewed S&E publications in recent years has grown more rapidly in middle-income countries, especially China, than in high-income countries, including the United States (see Glossary for definitions). China’s S&E publication output has risen nearly tenfold since 2000, and as a result, China’s output in terms of absolute quantity now exceeds that of the United States.

S&E articles by selected region, country, or economy: Selected years, 2000–18

EU = European Union.

Note(s)

Articles are fractionally counted and classified by publication year and assigned to a region, country, or economy by author's institutional address(es). Percentages shown represent share of global S&E articles. Article counts are from a selection of journals in S&E from Scopus. Articles are credited on a fractional count basis (i.e., for articles from multiple regions, countries, or economies, each area receives fractional credit on the basis of the author's institutional address). Some articles have incomplete address information for coauthored publications in the Scopus database and cannot be fully assigned to a region, country, or economy. These unassigned counts, 0.1% of the world total in 2018, are used to calculate this figure but are not shown. For more information on Elsevier’s Scopus database, see https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scopus.

Source(s)

NCSES, special tabulations (2019) by SRI International and Science-Metrix of Elsevier's Scopus database.

Indicators 2020: Publication Output

As measured by publication output, the subject-matter emphasis of scientific research varies across countries and regions. Among the largest producers in 2018, the United States and the EU each produced more biomedical and health sciences articles than did China. However, China surpassed the United States and the EU individually in the production of engineering articles and now produces more than twice as many engineering articles as the United States.

Publications receiving more citations generally have more impact on a particular scientific discipline. The relative impact of an economy’s S&E research can be compared through the representation of its articles among the world’s top 1% of cited articles, normalized to account for the size of each country’s pool of S&E publications. This normalized value is referred to as an index and is similar to a standardized score. For example, if a country’s global share of top articles is the same as its global share of all publication output, the index is 1.0. The U.S. index was 1.9 in 2016, meaning that its share of the top 1% of cited articles was about twice the size of its share of total S&E articles (Figure 22). Between 2000 and 2016, the EU index of highly cited articles grew from 1.0 to 1.3 while China’s index more than doubled, from 0.4 to 1.1, indicating rising impact from both areas.

Top 1% cited article index, by selected region, country, or economy: 2000–16

EU = European Union.

Note(s)

Citation counts for a year are the number of citations in the peer-reviewed literature for articles published in that year. At least 2 years of data after publication are needed for a meaningful measure. This figure depicts the share of publications that are in the top 1% of the world's citations, relative to all the country’s publications in that period and field, referred to as the “index of highly cited articles.” It is computed as follows: Sx = HCAx/Ax, where Sx is the share of output from country x in the top 1% most cited articles; HCAx is the number of articles from country x that are among the top 1% most-cited articles in the world; and Ax is the total number of articles from country x in the database that were published in 2016 or earlier. At least 2 years of data after publication are needed for a meaningful measure. Publications that cannot be classified by country or field are excluded. Articles are classified by the publication year and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) listed in the article. The world average stands at 1.00 for each period and field. For more information on Elsevier’s Scopus database, see https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scopus.

Source(s)

NCSES, special tabulations (2019) by SRI International and Science-Metrix of Elsevier's Scopus database.

Indicators 2020: Publication Output

International Research Collaboration

U.S. research capacity, as well as that of other nations, is enhanced through connection with researchers around the world. The proportion of worldwide articles produced with international collaboration—that is, by authors from least two countries—has grown from 14% in 2000 to 23% in 2018. Most of the large producers of S&E scholarly articles in 2018 were highly collaborative (Figure 23): the UK (62%), Australia (60%), France (59%), Canada (56%), Germany (53%), Spain (53%), and Italy (50%) have relatively high international collaboration rates. In 2018, 39% of U.S. articles were developed through international collaboration, up from 19% in 2000. U.S. authors collaborated most frequently with authors from China (about 26% of U.S. internationally coauthored articles in 2018). Since 2000, international collaboration grew for most of the top 15 largest producers of S&E articles.

International collaboration on S&E articles, for the 15 largest producers of S&E articles, by country or economy: 2018

Note(s)

Articles are whole-counted and classified by publication year and assigned to a country or economy by listed institutional address(es). Articles refer to publications from a selection of journals and conference proceedings in S&E indexed in Scopus. Articles are credited on a whole-count basis (i.e., each collaborating country or economy is credited with one count). An article is considered an international collaboration when there are institutional addresses for authors from at least two different countries. Domestic author(s) only include articles with a single author or multiple authors with institutional addresses from only one country. The numbers of articles from the "international collaboration" and “domestic author(s) only" categories do not sum to the total whole-count article number because some coauthored publications have incomplete address information in the Scopus database and sometimes cannot be reliably identified as international or domestic collaborations. For more information on Elsevier’s Scopus database, see https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scopus.

Source(s)

NCSES, special tabulations (2019) by SRI International and Science-Metrix of Elsevier's Scopus database.

Indicators 2020: Publication Output

Knowledge- and Technology-Intensive Industry Output

Knowledge and technology intensity within an industry can be measured in several ways, including an industry’s employment of highly skilled workers and its R&D intensity. Using R&D intensity as a measure, the most R&D-intensive industries globally are manufacturing of aircraft; pharmaceuticals; computer, electronic, and optical products; computer software publishing; and scientific R&D. In these industries, global value-added output in 2018 was more than $3.2 trillion. Between 2003 and 2018, U.S. output increased from about $570 billion to $1.04 trillion, while the U.S. global share declined from 38% to 32%. Over this period, the EU’s and Japan’s global shares declined, whereas China’s share rose rapidly (Figure 24). The collective share for several other Asian countries and economies rose more moderately.

Value-added output of high R&D intensive industries by selected region, country, or economy: Selected years, 2003–18

EU = European Union.

Note(s)

Other selected Asia includes India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Percentages shown represent share of global value-added output of high R&D intensive industries. Value added is the amount contributed by a country, firm, or other entity to the value of a good or service and excludes purchases of materials and inputs. For more information on the Comparative Industry Service Forecast database available at IHS Markit, see https://ihsmarkit.com/.

Source(s)

IHS Markit, special tabulations (2019) of the Comparative Industry Service.

Indicators 2020: Industry Activities

Industries with lower but still appreciable levels of R&D intensity include chemicals (excluding pharmaceuticals), transportation equipment (excluding aircraft), electrical and other machinery and equipment, information technology services, and scientific instruments. In these medium-high R&D-intensive industries, global output in 2018 was nearly $5.8 trillion. Although U.S. output increased from about $600 billion to $1.25 trillion between 2003 and 2018, its global share decreased slightly (Figure 25). China, starting from a low base in 2003, now produces 26% of the global output. The EU and Japan saw declining shares.

Value-added output of medium-high R&D intensive industries by selected region, country, or economy: Selected years, 2003–18

EU = European Union.

Note(s)

Other selected Asia includes India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Percentages shown represent share of global value-added output of medium-high R&D intensive industries. Value added is the amount contributed by a country, firm, or other entity to the value of a good or service and excludes purchases of materials and inputs. For more information on the Comparative Industry Service Forecast database available at IHS Markit, see https://ihsmarkit.com/.

Source(s)

IHS Markit, special tabulations (2019) of the Comparative Industry Service.

Indicators 2020: Industry Activities

Many knowledge- and technology-intensive industries depend on powerful computers, known as supercomputers. They are one contributor to S&T capacity, including the capacity for developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. China is building its supercomputing capacity from a low base; its share of the worldwide 100 most powerful computers rose from 5% to 9% between 2010 and 2019. The United States had the largest share in 2019 (37%). However, the U.S. share has declined since 2010 (43%).