found that 38 of the world’s 50 leading research universities were in the United States.5

The strength of the US S&E enterprise is unlikely to falter in the near future, but over the longer term the United States faces challenges in maintaining its leadership. The investment of the United States in S&E education and research takes place in a global environment where other countries compete to produce, retain, and recruit the best S&E talent to strengthen their own research and teaching institutions. During spring 2004, a series of reports and popular articles were published on perceived symptoms of decline in the relative strength of the United States. For example, the New York Times reported that “the United States has started to lose its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation,” referring to a decline in the US share of indicators, such as prizes, patents, and numbers of journal papers produced by US citizens and cited by others.6

Authorship Trends

Articles and citations are indicators commonly used to assess a country’s scientific output. Articles published in internationally recognized journals constitute the key output of scientific research, whereas citations (the number of times an article has been cited) provide a measure of the research’s influence. The United States heads the list of nations in the volume of articles published and in citations,7 accounting for about one-third of all articles in 2001.8 However, its premier position has eroded over the last 15 years as other countries’ publications and citations have grown. From 1988 to 2001, world article output increased by almost 40 percent.9 Most of the increase can be attributed to growth in article output from Western Europe, Japan, and several emerging East Asian S&T centers (South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and China), while the US article output has remained essentially constant since 1992 (Figure 3-2). Since 1997, the European


Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University Institute of Higher Education, Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2004, The ranking emphasizes prizes, publications, and citations attributed to faculty and staff, as well as the size of institutions. The Times Higher Education supplement also provides international comparisons of universities.


William J. Broad. 2004. “U.S. is losing its dominance in the sciences.” New York Times (May 3). Journal publications are a key indicator for basic research, and patents are of high significance to the pharmaceutical industry.


David A. King. 2004. “The scientific impact of nations.” Nature. 430:311-316. King counted internationally co-authored papers more than once (that is, for each country represented in the author list).


National Science Board (NSB) 2004. Science & Engineering Indicators. 2004 (NSB 04-1). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, Chapter 5.


NSB. 2004. Ibid.

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