A Comparison of the Scientific Performance of the US and the European Union at the Turn of the 21st Century Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2010

start page

  • 329

end page

  • 344


  • 1


  • 85

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0138-9130

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1588-2861


  • In this paper, scientific performance is identified with the impact that journal articles have through the citations they receive. In 15 disciplines, as well as in all sciences as a whole, the EU share of
    total publications is greater than that of the U.S. However, as soon as
    the citations received by these publications are taken into account the
    picture is completely reversed. Firstly, the EU share of total citations
    is still greater than the U.S. in only seven fields. Secondly, the mean
    citation rate in the U.S. is greater than in the EU in every one of the
    22 fields studied. Thirdly, since standard indicators—such as
    normalized mean citation ratios—are silent about what takes place in
    different parts of the citation distribution, this paper compares the
    publication shares of the U.S. and the EU at every percentile of the
    world citation distribution in each field. It is found that in seven
    fields the initial gap between the U.S. and the EU widens as we advance
    towards the more cited articles, while in the remaining 15 fields—except
    for Agricultural Sciences—the U.S. always surpasses the EU when it
    counts, namely, at the upper tail of citation distributions. Finally,
    for all sciences as a whole the U.S. publication share becomes greater
    than that of the EU for the top 50% of the most highly cited articles.
    The data used refers to 3.6 million articles published in 1998&-2002, and
    the more than 47 million citations they received in 1998&-2007