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The measurement of scientific excellence around the world


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  • Pedro Albarrâan
  • Javier Ruiz-Castillo


This paper reviews scientific excellence in 38 countries and eight geographical areas using two sets of novel indicators of citation impact: a family of high-impact indicators imported from the poverty literature in Economics, and a set of indicators within the percentile rank approach. Among the main findings with a dataset of about 4.4 million from Thomson Scientific we emphasize the following three. (i) The proportion 10%, and two important percentile rank indicators bring no novelty relative to a traditional average-based indicator. (ii) A high-impact indicator very sensitive to citation inequality is seen to be useful to detect success at a local level, but not for a global ranking that includes small research units. (iii) A monotonic high-impact indicator sensitive to any increase in citations is used to rank the partition of the world into 46 units in the 22 broad fields distinguished by Thomson Scientific, as well as the all-sciences case. The authors acknowledge financial support by Santander Universities Global Division of Banco Santander. Albarrán acknowledges additional financial support from the Spanish MEC through grants ECO2009-11165 y ECO2011-29751, and Ruiz-Castillo through grant SEJ2007-67436. This paper is produced as part of the project Science, Innovation, Firms and markets in a Globalised World (SCIFIGLOW), a Collaborative Project funded by the European Commission's Seventh Research Framework Programme, Contract number SSH7-CT-2008-217436.

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía in its series Economics Working Papers with number we1208.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cte:werepe:we1208

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Keywords: Citation analysis; World rankings; High-impact indicators; Percentile rank indicators;


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  1. Albarrán, Pedro & Ortuño, Ignacio & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier, 2011. "The measurement of low- and high-impact in citation distributions: Technical results," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 48-63.
  2. Albarrán, Pedro & Crespo, Juan A. & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier, 2010. "The Skewness of Science in 219 Sub-Fields and a Number of Aggregates," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8126, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. DREZE, Jacques H; & ESTEVAN, Fernanda, . "Research and higher education in economics: can we deliver the Lisbon objectives," CORE Discussion Papers RP, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) -1941, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Aksnes, Dag W. & Schneider, Jesper W. & Gunnarsson, Magnus, 2012. "Ranking national research systems by citation indicators. A comparative analysis using whole and fractionalised counting methods," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 36-43.
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