Scientific Productivity at the European Championship


In the light of recent events and discussion concerning the Brexit decision and the impact it might have for the scientific world, it is interesting to study the European Union funding received by England-based institutions over the past eight years. Iceland, first timers in the European Championships, surprised the world by beating England for the first time in the national team’s history. Merely a day after the decision to leave the EU, England found itself  being eliminated from the tournament in the round of 16. Since 2008, selected EU funding bodies* have been financially supporting research projects carried out by English institutions, the results of which are published in more than 40,000 papers. Amongst the top European funding bodies for England are the European Commission (EU) which has funded more than 23,400 papers, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the European Research Council (ERC).

 *:European Union (EU), European Research Council (ERC), European Community (EC), European Commission Joint Research Centre, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), European Space Agency, European Social Fund (ESF), European Science Foundation (ESF), European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST).

 england_main E funding


 iceland main funding

 Amongst Iceland’s major European funding sources is the EU, which has funded more than 350 papers;  also prominent are Nordic organizations such as the Swedish Research Council and the Academy of Finland.



Poland is almost five times bigger than Switzerland in terms of population. Neither team has ever reached the Euro Cup Finals. In terms of scientific productivity, however, both countries have presented a similarly intensive growth rate. Over the past 35 years, Switzerland has published more than 706,000 papers; this equals 5% of total EU research output, while Poland has published more than 523,000 papers, or 3% of the EU total. On the field, the strength and power of Poland pulled through in an intense match that led to penalty kicks, with Poland winning by just one goal.

Swi v poland

 Both Switzerland and Poland have strengths and weaknesses in the scientific research areas in which their publications are concentrated. Over the past 35 years, Switzerland has published more than 158,000 papers in the broad Essential Science Indicators area of Clinical Medicine. These papers have a Category Normalized Citation Impact indicator equal to 1.67. This means that Clinical Medicine papers listing at least one Switzerland-based author perform 1.67 times better than the average paper in Clinical Medicine worldwide. Even though Poland has published less than half of Switzerland’s total in Clinical Medicine (roughly 65,000 papers), Poland’s Category Normalized Citation Impact indicator for Clinical Medicine research is 1.36, indicating an impact 1.36 times better than the average in the field.  



 Wales and Northern Ireland, neither having previously qualified for the Euros, were both out to make a statement. Wales, having played a strong game, pulled out ahead to advance to the Quarter Finals. In terms of scientific productivity, both countries have been solidly increasing their research output over the last three decades. Particularly notable is the rapid increase of publishing in Gold Open Access journals, especially after 2006. 

 Wales v N. Ire

 top journals

In which journals do Wales-  and Northern Ireland-based researchers publish the most? In terms of traditional subscription journals, Welsh researchers publish the most in British Medical Journal, Lancet and Anaesthesia, while N. Irish researchers publish the most in Irish Journal of Medical Science, Journal of Physics B and Astronomy & Astrophysics. In terms of Gold Open Access journals, Welsh researchers publish the most in Plos One, BMJ Open and Trials, while N. Irish researchers publish the most in Plos One, New Journal of Physiscs and Heamatologica.



Croatia and Portugal do not share much in common in terms of demographics or geography, apart from being strong soccer powerhouses. The Portuguese power had been weak in the group stage, barely advancing to the round of 16, where they met Croatia in another close match. Portugal was able to score a goal in extra time, despite the Croatian dominance throughout the game. The Croatians had more than double the amount of shots on goal compared to the Portuguese but were not able to take a shot where it mattered most, allowing the Portuguese to advance in the final minutes of the match.   In the academic world, the fact that these two countries don’t share a lot of common characteristics is reflected in their relative lack of collaboration on research projects: Over the past 35 years, Croatia and Portugal researchers have collaborated in no more than 989 papers. Overall when it comes to country scientific collaborations, Croatia is Portugal’s 49th collaborator and Portugal is Croatia’s 31st.

Which nations are Croatia’s most frequent collaborators? Croatian researchers’ top three country collaborators include Germany with 5,351 publications followed by the USA with 5,552 publications and the United Kingdom with 3,514.


Who are Portugal’s top country collaborators? The top three are the USA with 19,813 publications, followed by the United Kingdom with 19,771 publications (particularly with England-based researchers; 17,927 publications) and France with 14,927 publications.



A match between Italy and Spain is always one to look forward. If this match was in research, it would be just as interesting.

To prove how similar they are, despite their very high productivity, we have selected the 11 most- cited Highly Cited Papers from Italy-based  authors and positioned them on the field according to their research area, to prepare the strategy for the match.

Highly cited papers are the top 1% papers in their area for number of citations over the last 10 years.

The research areas can be found below each paper icon (the papers are also color-coded by subject), and the numbers represent the rank for each of the 11 papers within the entire set of Highly Cited Papers from the country when ordered by Times Cited. In the illustration below, for example, the most-cited of Italy’s Highly Cited Papers, labelled #1, is in condensed-matter physics, while the #2-ranked paper, in the goalkeeper position, was indexed in the Web of Science category of Physics, Particles and Fields.


The same thing has been done for Spain, using the same methodology.

italy v spain 2

We can find similarities between these countries in their size, language and even culture. But can we find the same in scientific research? Analysing how many of these  papers from Spain-based authors were published in collaboration with at least one co-author at an Italy-based institution, we get the following map.

1 co author

If we now use the same angle in Italy, we will curiously have a similar picture.

1 co author 2

Collaboration has been profitable for Italy and Spain, as represented in the top 11 most impactful Highly Cited Papers for both countries. We could say that collaboration even makes these games more interesting. For more details on these and other Highly Cited Papers, take a look at the Web of Science and the Essential Science Indicators.



Overall, the Republic of Ireland produces a lower number of publications per year than France. However, can you spot some similarities in their collaborating countries? The numbers in each circle quantify the publications in collaboration with that specific country.

Irish Collaborations

irish collab

French Collaborationsfrench collab 



Germany and Slovakia have very different publication productivity levels. The number of researchers in each country is also obviously very different. However, Open Access (OA) is a trend across all Europe so let’s take a look at the percentage of OA publications funded by the biggest funders in both countries.

The funder with the higher number of publications for Germany is the German Research Foundation (DFG). This institution has funded 148,863 publications since 2008. Of these, 11.57% were OA.

In Slovakia, VEGA is the funder present in more publications, with 5,098 since 2008. A slightly higher percentage of OA publications can be measured: 12.18%

% OA


Productivity in terms of number of publications per year has had a constant growth in Belgium. By comparison, the quantity and growth rate for Hungarian institutions are clearly smaller.


However, if we analyse the citation impact relative to the world of those same publications, we can see that Hungary, in terms of the influence of its scientific publications, is catching up!

OA hungary


We’ll be giving our InCites into the Euros for the remainder of the tournament, so be sure to follow along here on the blog and on Twitter using #EuroInCites.


Did you miss any of our EuroInCites posts? Catch up now:
International Collaboration at the European Championship
Measuring Research Impact at the European Championship
International Co Authors at the European Championship
Scorecard of the European Championship