This article is from the In-Depth Report State of the World’s Science

The World's Best Countries in Science [Interactive]

Interactive by Jan Willem Tulp

What makes one country better than another in science? It's not an easy thing to measure. Publishing research papers is a good way to get a bead on basic research, but it doesn't say much about whether a nation is taking advantage of those good ideas. For this, other metrics come into play. Patents give a clue as to how well a country is exploiting its ideas for commercial gain. What a nation spends on R&D captures not only what universities and government research programs do but also the contribution from industry. How many students a nation educates in science and technology disciplines is a key metric, but little data are available.

The rankings of the top 40 nations in this interactive are based on preliminary data from Digital Science, a sister company to Nature Publishing Group (which owns Scientific American). It has assembled a database of research papers published in top peer-reviewed journals around the world and has organized them by nation of origin. The table above shows the rankings for this metric and others—patents, R&D expenditures and doctoral candidates produced. For more information, visit

This interactive was first published in 2012. It has since been updated with 2014 data.

This article was originally published with the title "Scorecard: The World's Best Countries in Science."

or subscribe to access other articles from the October 2012 publication.
Digital Issue $5.99
Digital Issue + Subscription $39.99 Subscribe
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article