1. United States of America
The United States is the most prolific publisher of high-quality science in the world, but China is closing the gap with astonishing rapidity.
Output from the US was down in 2018 compared with 2017, but it continues to be bolstered by its top-performing institutes: Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT and the National Institutes of Health.
China’s rise in the research rankings is a well-told story, but that doesn’t make it any less remarkable. Its increase in FC in 2018 has been meteoric, and it’s got the whole world’s attention.
In early 2018, the US National Science Foundation released a report showing that, as far back as 2016, China overtook the US as the top producer of science and engineering articles tracked by Scopus
With two institutions in the Nature Index Top 100 Global Institutions table, Germany is a force in high-quality research publishing.
Its top institutions, the Max Planck Society and Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, are among the top 10 in the physical sciences, chemistry, life sciences, Earth and environmental sciences, and global research institutes categories for 2018.
4. United Kingdom
As Nature reported in April, Brexit has already damaged research in the UK. That said, it remains one of the world’s best in producing high-quality research in the natural sciences, retaining its long-standing fourth rank in the Nature Index
With an impressive standing among the world’s best research publishers, Japan is working hard to retain its position. While its strategy of funding selected institutions to boost their overseas collaboration is starting to bear fruit, it continues to look outwards in an effort to arrest the alarming decline in its high-quality scientific research.
France’s strengths in the natural sciences are diverse, with chemistry, physical sciences, and life sciences accounting for roughly equal shares in its high-quality research output, followed by Earth and environmental sciences.
Universities across Canada might have reported a deluge of applications in 2017, as students and researchers sought respite from the anti-science stance of the Trump administration in the US and the disruption of Brexit in Europe, but this has yet to impact on its high-quality research output. Canada is one of a number of high-ranking countries in 2018 that saw a downturn in FC, compared with 2017.
For a nation of just 8.4 million, Switzerland punches well above its weight in high-quality research output.
9. South Korea
Thanks in no small part to its high R&D spending, South Korea’s strengths lie in the physical sciences and chemistry, and, as a 2018 study by Canadian researcher Mikko Packalen showed, in developing novel biomedical concepts.
Australia has the rare distinction of being the only country to shake up the top 10 in the 2019 Nature Index Top 50 Countries/Territories table, and the only country in the top 10 apart from China where FC increased in 2018. While the top nine has remained unchanged for three years, Australia jostled Spain out of the 10th slot, up from rank 11 in 2017.