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A comparison of the scientific performance of the U. S. and the European Union at the turn of the XXI century


  • Ruiz-Castillo, Javier
  • Ortuño, Ignacio
  • Crespo, Juan A.
  • Albarrán, Pedro


In this paper, scientific performance is identified with the impact journal articles achieve through the citations they receive. The empirical exercise refers to 3.6 million articles published in 1998-2002 in 22 scientific fields, and the more than 47 million citations they receive in 1998-2007. The first finding is that a failure to exclude co-authorship among member countries within the EU (European Union) may lead to a serious upward bias in the assignment of articles to this geographical area. In the second place, standard indicators, such as normalized mean citation ratios, are silent about what takes place in different parts of the citation distribution. Consequently, this paper compares the publication shares of the U.S. and the EU at every percentile of the world citation distribution in each field. In 15 disciplines, as well as in all sciences as a whole, the EU share of total publications is greater than that of the U.S. one. But as soon as the citations received by these publications are taken into account the picture is completely reversed. The mean citation rate in the U.S. is greater than in the EU in every one of the 22 fields. In seven fields, the initial gap between the U.S. and the EU widens up as we advance towards the more cited articles, while in the remaining 15 fields –except for Agricultural Sciences– the U.S. always surpasses the EU when it counts, namely, at the upper tail of citation distributions. For all sciences as a whole, the U.S publication share becomes greater than that of the EU one for the top 50% of the most highly cited articles.

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  • Ruiz-Castillo, Javier & Ortuño, Ignacio & Crespo, Juan A. & Albarrán, Pedro, 2009. "A comparison of the scientific performance of the U. S. and the European Union at the turn of the XXI century," UC3M Working papers. Economics we095534, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:werepe:we095534

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Katz, J. Sylvan, 1999. "The self-similar science system1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 501-517, June.
    2. Giovanni Dosi & Patrick Llerena & Mauro Sylos Labin, 2005. "Science-Technology-Industry Links and the ”European Paradox”: Some Notes on the Dynamics of Scientific and Technological Research in Europe," Working Papers of BETA 2005-11, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    3. Moed, H. F. & Burger, W. J. M. & Frankfort, J. G. & Van Raan, A. F. J., 1985. "The use of bibliometric data for the measurement of university research performance," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 131-149, June.
    4. Grupp, Hariolf & Mogee, Mary Ellen, 2004. "Indicators for national science and technology policy: how robust are composite indicators?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1373-1384, November.
    5. Michael Batty, 2003. "The geography of scientific citation," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 35(5), pages 761-765, May.
    6. J Sylvan Katz, 2000. "Scale-independent indicators and research evaluation," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 23-36, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pedro Albarrán & Ignacio Ortuño & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2011. "Average-based versus high- and low-impact indicators for the evaluation of scientific distributions," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(4), pages 325-339, October.
    2. Benedetto, Lepori & Geuna, Aldo & Veglio, Valerio, 2017. "A Typology of European Universities. Differentiation and resource distribution," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201705, University of Turin.
    3. Pedro Albarrán & Antonio Perianes-Rodríguez & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2015. "Differences in citation impact across countries," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 66(3), pages 512-525, March.
    4. repec:spr:scient:v:95:y:2013:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-012-0865-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:wfo:wstudy:59289 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Jürgen Janger, 2015. "Business science links for a new growth path," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 107, WWWforEurope.
    7. N. N., 2014. "WIFO-Monatsberichte, issue 1/2014," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 87(1), January.
    8. Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2012. "The evaluation of citation distributions," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 291-310, March.
    9. Neus Herranz & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2013. "The end of the “European Paradox”," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 95(1), pages 453-464, April.
    10. repec:spr:scient:v:104:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-015-1573-y is not listed on IDEAS
    11. David Bailey & Lisa De Propris & Jürgen Janger, 2015. "Industrial and innovation policy as drivers of change," WWWforEurope Deliverables series 9, WWWforEurope.
    12. Jürgen Janger & Klaus Nowotny, 2014. "Factors Determining Scientists' Job Choice," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 87(1), pages 81-89, January.
    13. Hrvoje Matakovic & Mirjana Pejic Bach & Iva Radocaj Novak, 2013. "Scientific Productivity in Transition Countries: Trends and Obstacles," Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems - scientific journal, Croatian Interdisciplinary Society Provider Homepage:, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189.
    14. Jürgen Janger & Klaus Nowotny, 2013. "Career choices in academia," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 36, WWWforEurope.
    15. Andrea Bonaccorsi & Tindaro Cicero & Peter Haddawy & Saeed-UL Hassan, 2017. "Explaining the transatlantic gap in research excellence," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 110(1), pages 217-241, January.
    16. repec:spr:scient:v:87:y:2011:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-011-0357-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. repec:wfo:wstudy:58412 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. repec:wfo:wstudy:58413 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Benedetto Lepori & Aldo Geuna & Valerio Veglio, 2017. "A Typology of European Research Universities. Differentiation, Layering and Resource Distribution," SPRU Working Paper Series 2017-01, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    20. repec:spr:scient:v:101:y:2014:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-014-1362-z is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Lucio Cassia & Alfredo Massis & Michele Meoli & Tommaso Minola, 2014. "Entrepreneurship research centers around the world: research orientation, knowledge transfer and performance," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 376-392, June.
    22. Mátyás, László & Balázsi, László & Dömötör, Erika, 2016. "Emberi tényező a gazdaságban. Összegzés a COEURE-projekt tanulmányaiból, I
      [The human factor in the economy. Summary of the COEURE project studies, I]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(4), pages 407-430.
    23. repec:wfo:wstudy:46922 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Ruiz-Castillo Ucelay, Javier, 2016. "Research output indicators are not productivity indicators," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1601, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.

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