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Pakistan tops the world in research output

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In 2018, Nature Index published a news which drew attention to a scientific study published by the researchers at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA), China. The study done in 2017 and published by Scientometrics, a prestegious journal by Springer, reported that “less developed countries tend to possess higher relative growth rate in publications whereas the more developed countries tend to possess lower relative growth rate.”  In their study the researchers studied four countries; USA, China, India and Pakistan. The most stunning finding was that Pakistan’s research growth rate was superior to that of India, China and USA. The study also reported Pakistani researchers need least amount of time to double the amount of publciations.

Now a new news has been broke out by Nature journal that “Egypt and Pakistan had highest rise in research output in 2018.”

Emerging economies showed some of the largest increases in research output in 2018, according to estimates from the publishing-services company Clarivate Analytics. Egypt and Pakistan topped the list in percentage terms, with rises of 21% and 15.9%, respectively.

China’s publications rose by about 15%, and India, Brazil, Mexico and Iran all saw their output grow by more than 8% compared with 2017.

Globally, research output rose by around 5% in 2018, to an estimated 1,620,731 papers listed in a vast science-citation database Web of Science, the highest ever.

This diversification of players in science is a phenomenal success, says Caroline Wagner, a science and technology policy analyst at Ohio State University, and a former adviser to the US government.

“In 1980, only 5 countries did 90% of all science — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan,” she says. “Now there are 20 countries within the top producing group.”

The estimates were compiled for Nature by Clarivate, which owns Web of Science, and the analysis focused on 40 countries that have at least 10,000 papers in the database. The whole-year projections are based on the number of research and review papers published between January and August, because there is a time lag between papers being published and them appearing in the database.

Joshua Schnell, a senior adviser at Clarivate based in Rockville, Maryland, says that the results are comparable to annual increases over the past few years, and that the trend is expected to continue into 2019.

Rising in the ranks

It’s not yet clear what has driven the strong gains by Egypt and Pakistan. One reason could be that both countries started from a low base — near the bottom of the list of top 40 countries in overall numbers of papers, says Robert Tijssen, head of science and innovation studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

The figures might also reflect changes in how the database is curated, which has added more local or national journals to the mix. But some geographical regions, notably in Africa, are still under-represented, says Tijssen.

Increases in funding and international collaborations might also have boosted the rise in publications in Egypt and Pakistan, say Tijssen and Wagner.

In China, the gains follow two decades of strong policy-driven growth in science and higher education, says Tijssen.

Wagner also expects that China might soon overtake the United States to become the largest producer of publications — it is now only about 35,000 papers short.

“As you become more [globally] engaged, you also know what’s at the leading edges of science,” says Wagner. “And that is so important in order to catch the really top-level citations.”

According to Nature Index, US will maintain its edge over the long-term, but should be watching its back as “China is decisively following the US and the gap is reducing.”

Pakistan has certain remarkable scientific achievements to its credit. Dr. Abdus Salam was the first Pakistani Nobel Prize winner (in Physics) who did a ground-breaking breakthrough in the area of electroweak unification theory. His contributions inspired various notable physicists around the world. In 2016, Nergis Mavalvala was the only Pakistani scientist among the team that detected Einstein’s gravitational waves. The study was a scientific breakthrough. In 2015, Pakistan became Associate Member State of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research.

The article was originally appeared at WeChat.

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