Against a current backdrop of tensions in international trade – the Brexit quandary and the tariff duels initiated by US President Donald Trump being just two examples – the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) of the Web of Science Group weighs in with a timely subject for its fourth Global Research Report: a collection of “scorecards” for the G20 nations.
Along with trade, of course, an essential determinant of prosperity and advancement is a country’s research base and the innovation it fosters. Among the pertinent questions: Is the national research enterprise adequately funded and staffed? Does the volume of research output, and the quality of that output, attain levels sufficient for global competitiveness? How successful is the country in leveraging the advantages of international research collaboration?
The new report — the first in a projected series of annually updated listings — examines these questions for each of the G20 nations (that is, for the purposes of this report, the 19 individual nations, minus the remaining member, the European Union).
True to the approach specified in the inaugural Global Research Report in early 2019 (“Profiles, Not Metrics”), this report dispenses with any attempt at a simplistic ranking of nations. Instead, the analysis relies on a range of measures. The citation-based figures derive from the Web of Science and its suite of resources for assessing research performance.
Additionally, the report gathers information from other sources, including statistics on population, employment, and research funding from the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
With concise data visualizations across a two-page spread for each country, the report offers a uniform national scorecard for the G20 members (along with a summary section discussing additional details), covering a 10-year window. The visuals impart data on research productivity and impact, especially in the context of collaboration with other nations. Radar charts provide a detailed picture of each country’s “research footprint” in terms of main subject areas. Where available, demographic information conveys the male/female percentages of research professionals. Further metrics demonstrates the extent to which the country’s research publications have embraced open access.
In sum, these scorecards provide trend data on numerous matters salient to a healthy research enterprise: Whose research workforce has been most successfully diversified in terms of gender? How has collaboration affected national research impact? In what fields do these countries excel? And how readily have they adapted themselves to new modes of disseminating research results?
The answers hold clues to which nations will likely be the winners and losers in the crucial process of translating research into innovation and, subsequently, into national prosperity and security.