Facts and figures: publications

From the UNESCO Science Report, Towards 2030

Between 2008 and 2014, the number of scientific articles catalogued in the Science Citation Index of Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science grew by 23%, from 1 029 471 to 1 270 425. Growth was strongest among the upper middle-income economies (94%), primarily driven by growth in Chinese publications (151%).

USA was the single largest country of origin, with 321 846 scientific articles in 2014, or 25.3% of world total, down from 28.1% in 2008, whereas China’s share climbed from 9.9% to 20.2% over the same period.

As a group, the 28 member states of the European Union are the most productive worldwide. Scientists authored 432 195 scientific articles, more than a third of world total (34%), representing 847 articles per million inhabitants.

However, the four countries comprising the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, namely Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) had a higher publication density than the European Union. Together, they produced 2 611 articles per million inhabitants. Home to 0.9% of the world’s researchers, EFTA countries co-authored 2.8% of the world’s scientific articles, more than the share of Africa as a whole (2.6%).

Iran nearly doubled its share of world publications to 2% in 2014, with 25 588 articles, comparable to the world shares of the Arab States (2.4%), Russian Federation (2.3%) and Turkey (1.9%).

Scientific articles by Malaysian authors grew by 251% between 2008 and 2014, to reach 9 998, or 331 articles per million inhabitants, around three times the average of Asia as a whole.

Japan remained a major source of scientific publishing in 2014 (73 128 articles, or 5.8% of the world total) but it is one of the rare countries where output has declined (by 4.1% since 2008). Another example of this trend is Venezuela, where scientific output declined by as much as 28% between 2005 and 2014.


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