National Rankings by Share of Highly Cited Papers

Data provided by Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators, 1 January 1999-31 August 2009

December 10, 2009

Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators defines highly cited papers as those that rank in the top 1 per cent by citations for their year of publication and field. Thus, if more than 1 per cent of a nation’s papers qualify as highly cited, the nation contributes more than its expected share. The table above lists, on the left-hand side and in descend­ing order, those nations with the highest percentage of highly cited papers from 1999 to the present. For example, Switzerland produced 125 per cent more highly cited papers than expected given its output, the US 85 per cent more than expected and so on.

The right-hand side of the table ranks nations that published at least 10,000 papers during the period by relative citation impact in all fields, which is to say by the ratio of citations per paper for the nation to the citations per paper score for the world. A score in relative impact above 1.00 represents performance above

the world average, and below 1.00 represents performance below the world average. Generally, there is a high positive correlation between the percentage of highly cited papers produced and relative citation impact. This seems reasonable since one expects influential research reports to disproportionately derive from nations with strong science enterprises.

But the correlation represents something more. Since citation distributions are skewed, the mean value of the citation-impact score is sensitive to those relatively rare but very highly cited reports. An interesting example is Japan, which does not appear among the top 25 nations in its production of highly cited papers. Plainly, it has

a mature science system, so its absence in the list invites a question. In fact, the share of highly cited papers produced by Japan is 0.71, or 29 per cent below the expected figure. This helps explain why, compared with other G7 nations, Japan ranks relatively lowly at 0.96 in terms of relative citation impact.

For more information, see

 NationHighly cited papers
1 Switzerland2.25
2United States1.85
3 Denmark1.81
4 England1.79
5 Netherlands1.74
6 Scotland1.68
7 Belgium1.50
8 Sweden1.42
9 Canada1.40
10 Germany1.37
11 Austria 1.33
12 Ireland1.32
13 Norway1.28
14%3D Israel1.26
14%3D Wales1.26
16 Australia1.23
17 Finland1.22
18 France1.19
19 Northern Ireland1.17
20 Singapore1.15
22New Zealand1.06
 NationRelative citation impact
1 Switzerland1.56
2 United States 1.49
3 Denmark 1.47
4 Netherlands1.44
5 Scotland1.42
6%3D England 1.37
6%3D Sweden1.37
8 Finland1.28
9 Belgium1.25
10 Canada 1.23
11 Germany1.22
12 Austria 1.19
13 Israel1.17
14 Norway1.16
15 France1.14
16 Wales1.13
17 Australia1.10
18 Italy1.09
19 Northern Ireland1.08
20 Ireland1.05
21New Zealand0.99

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