A trio of relatively small Western European nations heads a recently published list of countries that produce high-quality basic research. The study, undertaken by the Information Science and Scientometrics Research Unit (ISSRU) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, found that the scientists of Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark produced papers having significantly greater impact than expected, based on the average citation rates of the journals in which each paper was published. By the same measure, West Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium also recorded better-than-expected performances, but not as great as those of Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark. France, Japan, the Soviet Union, and nine other countries rounding out of the top 20 showed lower-than-expected performances.

The ISSRU, using the data of the Institute for Scientific Information’s Science Citation Index for the period from 1981 to 1985, compared the actual number of citations per paper...

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