An analysis of the scientific production of more than 80 countries from 1996 to 2006 found that there are three major ‘clusters’ of countries, defined by the thematic areas they investigate and that their governments invest in most.
Using this data, researchers from the University of Granada and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), belonging to the SCImago research group have designed the most comprehensive 'world map of research' to date. Using statistical techniques and multivariate analysis, they included over 15 million documents and scientific articles.
Their clusters don't make intuitive sense at first. The first is made up of Western Europe, the USA, Canada and the petrol-rich Arab Emirates and form the Biomedical cluster. The governments of these countries understand that research into health has electoral benefits because it improves the quality of life of their citizens, says Victor Herrero-Solana, Professor of Information and Communication at the University of Granada and one of the authors.
The second major block of countries is made up of Russia and the former Soviet countries, Eastern Europe, communist countries like China and Korea, together with Singapore, Taiwan and Japan and they do research in basic science, such as physics, mathematics and engineering. In these countries, research has developed around the model of the traditional scientific academies.
The third is developing nations in Africa, south-east Asia and Latin America. “These countries have not yet developed a national research system and highlight agriculture and fisheries for the simple, practical reason that this enables them to improve GDP.”
In their article, the researchers also found a group of intermediate, heterogeneous countries "who have not yet opted for any one of these three research models because, although they are striving to develop a Science and Technology system, they remain socio-economically immature”.
That group includes many Latin American countries like Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
Citation: Moya-Anegón F, Herrero-Solana V (2013). Worldwide Topology of the Scientific Subject Profile: A Macro Approach in the Country Level. PLOS ONE 8(12): e83222. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083222
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