Latin American nations ranked by research paper output

March 10, 2011

Latin American nations now produce about 5 per cent of the scientific articles indexed by Thomson Reuters in the internationally influential journals surveyed for its Web of Science database. This marks a significant increase on the 3 per cent figure recorded a decade ago. Brazil accounts for more than half of the region’s output: 2.7 per cent in the most recent year, up from 1.4 per cent in 2000.

The table above summarises the output, world share, citations and citation impact (citations per paper) for the 10 Latin American nations that fielded at least 3,000 journal publications since 2000. The ranking is by total papers rather than citation impact, since the summary is based on all fields: different nations have different research portfolios, and the mix of their output by field affects the citation mean owing to their varying averages.

To gain some insight into each nation’s focus, the table lists the fields in which they held the highest world share and relative impact (citations per paper in the field compared with the world average) in the most recent five-year period. It is perhaps unsurprising that a region so rich in natural resources produces a large share of papers in the agricultural, environmental/ecological and plant and animal sciences.

However, when one examines relative impact per nation – considering those fields with a significant number of papers published – other areas turn up, too: engineering for Brazil; physics for Mexico; astronomy for Chile (home to several world-class observatories); chemistry for Cuba; and clinical medicine for the six other countries included in the table.

Brazil, the “B” in the so-called Bric nations, received particular attention in the Thomson Reuters Global Research Report, Brazil: Research and Collaboration in the New Geography of Science, which was published in June 2009. The country’s impressive increase in output was also featured in Science Watch in July/August 2009 and more recently in a survey titled “Brazilian Science: Riding a Gusher”, written by science journalist Antonio Regalado and published in Science in December 2010. It is clearly a country to watch in the coming years.

For more information, see:

Latin American nations ranked by research paper output
Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators, 1 January 2000-31 October 2010
Region rankWorld rank CountryTop field by share Papers World share (%) Citations Citation impactTop field by relative impact
115 BrazilAgricultural sciences195,459 2.001,246,013 6.37Engineering
228 MexicoPlant and animal sciences72,403 0.74507,316 7.01Physics
335 ArgentinaPlant and animal sciences55,872 0.57449,864 8.05Medicine
443 ChileEcology/environment31,837 0.33282,292 8.87Astronomy
555 ColombiaPlant and animal sciences 12,013 0.1278,067 6.50Medicine
656 VenezuelaPlant and animal sciences11,748 0.1277,877 6.63Medicine
765 CubaImmunology7,192 0.0742,913 5.97Chemistry
875 UruguayPlant and animal sciences4,513 0.0540,919 9.07Medicine
977 PeruImmunology3,866 0.0440,257 10.41Medicine
1085 Costa RicaPlant and animal sciences 3,192 0.0337,688 11.81Medicine

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