Annual G20 Scorecard: Spotlight on COVID-19 research

The latest Global Research Report from ISI analyzes the research landscape of each of the G20 member nations


As this eventful year draws nearer to its close, the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™ once again weighs in with a collection of “scorecards” for the G20 nations – the second in a series of annually updated listings.

The G20 is a group of 19 leading economies, with the E.U. as the additional 20th member. This year’s G20 Summit, to be hosted by Saudi Arabia on November 21-22, will be virtual due to the unique situation created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The G20 meeting is one of the world’s few forums for international cooperation this year and expectations are rightly high that the expertise and resources of its members should play a champion’s role in addressing the pandemic challenge. To reflect the important role of these leading economies during these unprecedented times, this year our annual G20 scorecard includes a special analysis of the G20 contribution to recent coronavirus research as indexed in the Web of Science™.


COVID-19 research

Researchers across the globe have been engaged in basic, experimental and clinical studies to understand the virus and ultimately produce a vaccine and/or a cure. The published literature has rapidly increased at an unprecedented scale. Through the examination of the text in the titles, abstracts and keywords of more than 18,000 articles and reviews indexed in the Web of Science since January 2020, the ISI identified important COVID-19 research topics and analyzed each G20 nation’s contribution as well as the topical spread across the group.

Our report shows that – due to their relatively developed research bases – G20 nations have been the most active participants in COVID-19 research. The virus has of course been particularly relevant for the highly populated G20 member nations which also report some of the highest absolute number of reported cases: United States, India, Brazil and Russia.


“G20 nations have been the most active participants in COVID-19 research.”



The report includes both a written summary and a host of graphs and exhibits that highlight the research performance of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The national research profiles within the report are selective, highlighting chosen topics of current policy interest that identify good signals of the health of the research base for each member country of the G20. Each scorecard looks at key metrics around people – the population, the abundance of researchers in that population and the percentage of those researchers who are female – as well as money and intellectual property – total GDP, Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD), Business Expenditure on R&D (BERD) and the ratio of patents to BERD. These key factors that contribute to impactful research are laid out for each nation in the report and benchmarked.


Analysis insights

The world’s most prosperous economies are also among the most innovative, and that innovation is driven first and foremost by research. The Institute for Scientific Information is uniquely placed to analyze and report on the comparative health of the research landscape for each G20 nation, setting Web of Science data alongside other key metrics and each member’s contribution to the recent papers addressing the pandemic.


“The world’s most prosperous economies are also among the most innovative, and that innovation is driven first and foremost by research.”


These nations have a responsibility to release the benefits of cutting-edge research to the largest possible number of people as rapidly as is feasible within sound research and clinical practice. This should produce a rapid understanding of the biological issues, the health impacts and responses, the social outcomes and the economic and societal implications of a pandemic. This year especially, these scorecards will help policymakers, observers and reporters to track, applaud and critique the research progress of the G20 member nations.


Download full report