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The measurement of scientific excellence around the world


  • Albarrán, Pedro
  • Ruiz-Castillo, Javier


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 of articles of a research unit in the set formed by the 10% of the most cited papers in the world, 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Albarrán, Pedro & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier, 2012. "The measurement of scientific excellence around the world," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1208, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:werepe:we1208

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. DREZE, Jacques & ESTEVAN, Fernanda, 2006. "Research and higher education in economics: can we deliver the Lisbon objectives ?," CORE Discussion Papers 2006051, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    2. repec:spr:scient:v:88:y:2011:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-011-0407-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Loet Leydesdorff & Lutz Bornmann & Rüdiger Mutz & Tobias Opthof, 2011. "Turning the tables on citation analysis one more time: Principles for comparing sets of documents," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 62(7), pages 1370-1381, July.
    4. Pedro Albarrán & Juan A. Crespo & Ignacio Ortuño & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2011. "The skewness of science in 219 sub-fields and a number of aggregates," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 88(2), pages 385-397, August.
    5. Loet Leydesdorff & Lutz Bornmann, 2011. "Integrated impact indicators compared with impact factors: An alternative research design with policy implications," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 62(11), pages 2133-2146, November.
    6. Albarrán, Pedro & Ortuño, Ignacio & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier, 2011. "The measurement of low- and high-impact in citation distributions: Technical results," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 48-63.
    7. 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, vol. 6(1), pages 36-43.
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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Perianes-Rodriguez & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2016. "University citation distributions," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 67(11), pages 2790-2804, November.
    2. Kaur, Jasleen & Ferrara, Emilio & Menczer, Filippo & Flammini, Alessandro & Radicchi, Filippo, 2015. "Quality versus quantity in scientific impact," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 800-808.

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