Conventional wisdom holds that America is in decline, particularly in the arena of science and technology, and that countries like China are taking the lead. But as is often the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. According to R&D Magazine, in 2013, the U.S. will invest $424 B in research and development (R&D), while China will invest roughly half that amount ($220 B). Amazingly, the U.S. will invest more in R&D than all of Europe combined ($350 B).
Two years ago, the BBC reported that China may overtake the U.S. in scientific output by 2013, as measured by the total number of scientific journal articles published. That may or may not happen. Still, as correctly reported in Nature News, quantity does not trump quality. The article went on to say, rather harshly, that China's "scientific journals are filled with incremental work, read by virtually no one and riddled with plagiarism."
Therefore, a better -- though imperfect -- measure of scientific output is the h-index, a numerical value that reflects not only the quantity of articles published, but also the number of times they were cited by researchers. (A good video explaining how the h-index is calculated can be found here.) By this measure, China is not even in the global top 10. Instead, it ranks in at #17. The other BRICS do not even crack the top 20. (Russia #21, Brazil #22, India #23 and South Africa #35.)
So, which countries are in the top 10 for greatest scientific impact? Continue with the list to find out.
Source: SCImago Journal & Country Rank
Image: Mai-Linh Doan via Wikimedia Commons