Anita Makri in Nature:
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 (See ‘Countries with biggest rises in research output’). 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 (see ‘Research output rose again in 2018’). 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.”
…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.