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Why is US citation share dropping?

The National Science Foundation released two reports to the public this week that examine a puzzling trend: Why, during times of increasing investment in science, is the share of US publications dropping? As I linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/36407 in November of last year, US publication numbers plateaued from 1992 to 2002, and the global percentage of publications coming out of the US dropped from 38% in 1973 to 30% in 2003. Meanwhile, the report shows US academic R&D

By | July 20, 2007

The National Science Foundation released two reports to the public this week that examine a puzzling trend: Why, during times of increasing investment in science, is the share of US publications dropping? As I linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/36407 in November of last year, US publication numbers plateaued from 1992 to 2002, and the global percentage of publications coming out of the US dropped from 38% in 1973 to 30% in 2003. Meanwhile, the report shows US academic R&D expenditures during 1988 to 2003 rising at a fast clip. As I write in this month's issue of __The Scientist__, linkurl:investing dollars in science;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/7/1/28/1 appears to have robust returns to the economy; why aren't publication numbers responding similarly? One linkurl:report;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srs07204/ surveyed a number of leading scientists, who agree that better and more abundant science from Asian countries has contributed to America's drop in share. The report summarizes the views that "improved capacity overseas is more likely to account for the increased share of [science and engineering] papers from foreign institutions than changes in what Americans have been doing." International collaboration and bigger science, with more authors per publication, might also explain the US's dropping share. A second linkurl:report,;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf07320/ and one you bibliometric zealots out there will certainly enjoy, presents a load of data on publishing trends, such as the growth of publications in different countries (all of which had slower growth from 1992-2003 than 1988-1992); which sectors show the greatest decline in US share of publications (engineering and math); and countries' share of the top cited articles (the US produces 64% of the most cited papers). I love cruising through data like these, much of which comes from the Thomson ISI database, which __The Scientist's__ founder, Eugene Garfield, also established. The analyses are wonderfully descriptive in how trends in publication have changed in the past few decades, but I am interested in what might explain them. What do you think is to account for the US's shrinking proportions in publication output? And is there any cause for concern? Tell us what you think by posting a comment to this blog.
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Mettler Toledo
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences