Publication Output by Country, Region, or Economy and Scientific Field

Publication output reached 2.9 million articles in 2020 with over 90% of the total from countries with high-income and upper middle-income economies (Figure PBS-1). Since 1996, output has consistently grown for countries with high-income economies, such as the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK), expanding from a large base number of publications (Table SPBS-2). Countries with upper-middle-income economies, such as China, Iran, Russia, and Brazil, have had a more rapid pace of growth since 1996, expanding from a relatively smaller base number of publications. Overall, the publication compound annual growth rates of countries with upper middle-income and high-income economies have been 10% and 3%, respectively, for the 25-year period covering 1996–2020 (Figure PBS-1).

S&E articles, by income group: 1996–2020

(Number)
Publication year High-income economies Upper-middle-income economies Lower-middle-income economies
1996 845,675.3 102,277.5 34,391.5
1997 867,695.4 108,744.2 36,137.7
1998 862,772.5 118,347.1 36,835.2
1999 860,011.6 120,653.4 37,469.9
2000 897,345.6 132,228.0 38,636.9
2001 907,133.7 157,592.0 41,802.7
2002 941,680.8 169,561.6 43,733.9
2003 977,106.2 186,880.2 47,225.1
2004 1,044,786.6 228,902.2 50,679.0
2005 1,145,434.4 283,305.8 57,405.3
2006 1,190,600.4 321,729.2 64,158.4
2007 1,220,325.9 356,265.5 68,500.9
2008 1,254,150.1 407,067.3 77,534.9
2009 1,291,178.4 462,325.1 86,688.4
2010 1,326,711.2 501,514.8 96,710.2
2011 1,376,712.4 534,783.5 111,400.8
2012 1,407,224.3 550,145.8 120,705.2
2013 1,425,985.5 588,944.8 129,013.3
2014 1,443,354.7 633,466.1 140,190.1
2015 1,447,826.1 671,162.7 150,155.3
2016 1,453,391.3 728,210.2 167,870.3
2017 1,457,581.5 785,702.3 179,449.4
2018 1,473,174.7 881,412.0 202,535.1
2019 1,499,425.2 1,005,200.1 220,445.5
2020 1,570,265.1 1,096,808.5 253,720.0
Note(s):

Article counts refer to publications from a selection of conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journals in S&E fields from Scopus. Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a fractional count basis (i.e., for articles produced by authors from different countries, each country receives fractional credit on the basis of the proportion of its participating authors). Data are not directly comparable to Science and Engineering Indicators 2020; see the Technical Appendix for information on data filters. Low-income economies are not included in this figure because of their low publication output. Data by country and income groups are available in Table SPBS-2.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed May 2021; World Bank Country and Lending Groups, accessed March 2021.

Science and Engineering Indicators

More recently, the compound annual growth in publication output for the world was 4% from 2010 to 2020 (Table PBS-1). Country-specific growth rates vary widely by country. Among the 15 largest publication producers, countries with compound annual growth rates above the world average were Russia (10%), Iran (9%), India (9%), China (8%), and Brazil (5%); those with the lower growth rates were Japan (-1%), France (-0.3%), the United States (1%), the UK (1%), and Germany (1%). The countries with low growth rates are those that built their scientific capacity decades ago and continue to maintain their scientific research. The worldwide growth of publication output, from 1.9 million in 2010 to 2.9 million in 2020, was led by four geographically large countries. China (36%), India (9%), Russia (6%), and the United States (5%) together accounted for about half the increase in publications over this time period.

S&E articles in all fields for 15 largest producing regions, countries, or economies: 2010 and 2020

(Number and percent)

na = not applicable.

Note(s):

The countries or economies are ranked based on the 2020 total. Article counts refer to publications from conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journal articles in S&E and indexed in Scopus (see Technical Appendix for more details). Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a fractional count basis (i.e., for articles from multiple countries or economies, each country or economy receives fractional credit on the basis of the proportion of its participating authors). Detail may not add to total because of countries or economies that are not shown. Proportions are based on the world total excluding unclassified addresses (data not presented). Details and other countries are available in Table SPBS-2.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed May 2021.

Science and Engineering Indicators

Collectively, the top 15 countries produced 76% of the world’s publication output of 2.9 million articles in 2020 (Table PBS-1). The two countries producing the most S&E publications in 2020 were China (669,744, or 23%) and the United States (455,856, or 16%) (Figure PBS-2). With the exception of Iran replacing Taiwan beginning in 2014, the top 15 producers of S&E articles have been the same over the last 10 years (NSB 2016).

S&E articles, by selected region, country, or economy and rest of world: 1996–2020

(Number)
Publication year United States Germany United Kingdom China India Japan Rest of world World
1996 313,392 64,230 72,332 33,621 18,905 88,807 401,251 992,538
1997 311,117 68,275 74,151 37,425 19,349 91,890 419,112 1,021,319
1998 302,600 69,448 74,208 43,775 19,718 92,246 424,970 1,026,965
1999 296,941 67,534 73,334 45,192 20,838 94,195 431,245 1,029,278
2000 306,472 69,739 77,969 53,285 21,409 96,607 451,154 1,076,635
2001 306,734 71,531 74,398 70,676 22,533 96,103 471,487 1,113,462
2002 320,945 71,994 75,376 75,171 24,313 98,145 495,781 1,161,725
2003 330,543 73,156 76,341 87,850 26,820 100,495 528,659 1,223,864
2004 354,737 76,138 80,185 120,947 28,780 103,154 570,548 1,334,488
2005 385,577 84,244 85,439 165,404 32,885 111,836 631,941 1,497,326
2006 389,728 85,981 89,062 192,393 38,131 113,061 679,522 1,587,879
2007 392,349 88,888 91,538 213,168 42,576 108,877 720,506 1,657,902
2008 395,158 92,026 91,581 247,545 48,135 107,264 769,684 1,751,394
2009 399,757 95,033 94,039 285,496 53,557 108,811 813,796 1,850,488
2010 409,512 97,255 94,081 308,769 60,555 108,534 859,415 1,938,121
2011 423,222 99,987 95,498 323,136 71,809 110,349 912,088 2,036,090
2012 425,131 104,122 97,564 328,127 77,746 108,729 949,130 2,090,551
2013 426,597 104,648 98,590 356,356 82,779 107,889 976,674 2,153,533
2014 428,141 106,366 98,439 385,178 91,337 104,434 1,010,088 2,223,983
2015 428,204 106,344 99,435 405,812 97,788 101,065 1,036,919 2,275,565
2016 428,476 107,804 99,717 436,079 107,193 101,386 1,077,008 2,357,663
2017 430,198 107,880 99,991 468,045 112,505 100,971 1,112,795 2,432,385
2018 435,034 107,581 100,601 531,110 127,527 101,934 1,163,682 2,567,468
2019 438,020 108,725 101,343 610,459 129,550 101,040 1,250,135 2,739,272
2020 455,856 109,379 105,564 669,744 149,213 101,014 1,350,037 2,940,807
Note(s):

Article counts refer to publications from a selection of conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journals in S&E fields from Scopus. Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a fractional count basis (i.e., for articles produced by authors from different countries, each country receives fractional credit on the basis of the proportion of its participating authors). Data for all regions, countries, and economies are available in Table SPBS-2.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed May 2021.

Science and Engineering Indicators

The U.S. trend of moderate but increasing publication output varies by state. The National Science Board’s (NSB’s) State Indicators data tool provides state-level data based on each state’s doctorate population and R&D funding, including academic S&E article output per 1,000 science, engineering, and health doctorate holders in academia (NSB 2021a) and academic S&E article output per $1 million of academic S&E R&D (NSB 2021b).

The U.S. trend of publication output varies across race or ethnicity and sex, which impacts R&D careers (see sidebar Publication Output by Underrepresented Groups and Impact on R&D Careers and Indicators 2022 report “The STEM Labor Force of Today: Scientists, Engineers, and Skilled Technical Workers”).

Publication Output by Underrepresented Groups and Impact on R&D Careers

Distribution of publications by field of science and region, country, or economy can indicate research priorities and capabilities. Health sciences is the largest field of science globally (25% of publications in 2020) (Table SPBS-2 and Table SPBS-10). Likely due to COVID-19, health sciences publications grew 16%, and biological and biomedical sciences publications grew 15% from 2019 to 2020, far surpassing their previous 2009–19 compound annual growth rates of 3% for each (Table SPBS-5 and Table SPBS-10). In the United States, the European Union (EU-27), the UK, and Japan, health sciences publication output far exceeds that of any other field (Figure PBS-3). The United States, the UK, and the EU-27 have the highest proportions of articles in the social sciences of the six countries and regions shown. In China, the largest research area is engineering (24%), followed by health sciences (15%) and computer and information sciences (12%). The largest scientific field for publication output in India is computer sciences (18%). Japan has a portfolio with health sciences (32%) at the top, followed by biological and biomedical sciences (13%) and engineering (13%).

S&E research portfolios, by eight largest fields of science and by selected region, country, or economy: 2020

(Percent)
Region, country, or economy Health sciences Biological and biomedical sciences Engineering Computer and information sciences Physics Chemistry Social sciences Materials science
United States 36.62 14.28 11.12 6.49 5.90 3.43 8.23 1.30
EU-27 27.52 13.09 12.63 8.81 8.22 5.71 6.96 2.43
China 15.41 10.97 23.79 11.98 10.09 8.30 1.28 5.19
India 16.15 11.74 17.02 17.56 10.88 8.19 1.71 6.67
Japan 32.30 13.39 13.00 8.11 11.90 7.80 1.85 3.23
United Kingdom 33.32 12.36 10.68 7.34 6.17 3.80 11.75 1.58

EU = European Union.

Note(s):

Articles refer to publications from a selection of conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journals in S&E fields from Scopus. Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a fractional count basis (i.e., for articles from multiple countries, each country receives fractional credit on the basis of the proportion of its participating authors). See Table SPBS-1 for countries included in the EU; beginning in 2020, the United Kingdom was no longer a member of the EU. See Table SPBS-2 for all fields of science. See Table SPBS-2 through Table SPBS-16 for data on all regions, countries, and economies and all fields of science.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed May 2021.

Science and Engineering Indicators

There is increasing interest in measuring publication output that crosses or combines the standard scientific fields for solving boundary-defying issues, such as climate change or poverty reduction (NRC 2014, NASEM 2021). While publication output provides a potential avenue for measuring cross-disciplinary research output, there are challenges for national-level measures. (See sidebar Measuring Cross-Disciplinarity Using Publication Output.)

Measuring Cross-Disciplinarity Using Publication Output