The following article was recently published by PLOS One.
PLoS ONE 13(3)
This study asks the question on which national “shoulders” the world’s top-level research stands. Traditionally, the number of citations to national papers has been the evaluative measures of national scientific standings. We raise a different question: instead of analyzing the citations to a countries’ articles (the forward view), we examine references to prior publications from specific countries cited in the most elite publications (the backward—citing—view). “Elite publications” are operationalized as the top-1% most-highly cited articles. Using the articles published from 2004 to 2013, we examine the research referenced in these works. Our results confirm the well-known fact that China has emerged to become a major player in science. However, China still belongs to the low contributors when countries are ranked as contributors to the cited references in top-1% articles. Using this perspective, the results do not support a decreasing trend for the USA; in fact, the USA exceeds expectations (compared to its publication share) in terms of references in the top-1% articles. Switzerland, Sweden, and the Netherlands also appear at the top of the list. However, the results for Germany are lower than statistically expected.
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