A world map of who is doing what research

A map of two of the three core centers of research showing the three major clusters of scientific study ~ Biomedical (yellow), Basic (red), and Food Production during the decade 1996-2006.

It's often said that there are more scientists alive and working today than at any time in history.  From attempting to follow the scientific press, I know that on any given day there are 30 to 50 newly published reports on scientific work. 

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Last year a group of scientists from the University of Granada in Spain published their study of the overwhelming volume of scientific articles and reports made public between 1996 and 2006 - 15,000,000 reports on current research.  Most are team reports, so this mass of work represents the work of an uncountable number of scientists, engineers and technicians supported by an even larger number of clerks, administrators and even the humble journalist/blogger.

Three or four hundred years ago a literate, well-read person could keep track of the major developments in science and be considered a true "Renaissance Man" conversant in everything from the Christian Bible to physics to astronomy/astrology to higher mathematics.

Today?  Good luck on that one.

Every one of those 15,000,000 reports published in a single ten year period has potential to affect our lives in ways we simply cannot imagine.  This has to be the most amazing era in which to live in all of the 6.5 million years that the genus Homo has wandered pretty much aimlessly across the planet.  According to some, we're on the verge of destroying our Eden through pollution and man-made global warming.  According to others, we're on the verge of an amazing golden age of freedom from hunger, disease and ignorance.

It's a wondrous time in which to live, indeed.

About this study:

Scientists from the University of Granada and the Spanish National Research Council -- members of the SCImago research group -- have found that, worldwide, there are three major 'clusters' of countries, defined by the thematic areas they investigate and that their governments invest in most. The study analysed the scientific production of more than 80 countries over more than 10 years (1996-2006)

Spanish scientists designed a comprehensive 'world map of research' to date, revealing that worldwide there are three major groups, or clusters, of countries based on the thematic areas of research, most often government sponsored research.  The researchers dedicated more than 4 years to their task, using statistical techniques and multivariate analysis, and studying a sample of over 15 million documents and scientific articles.

Cluster One:  Biomedical Research:  Researchers conclude that the first cluster is made up of Western Europe, together with the USA, Canada and the petrol-rich Arab Emirates. Together, they form the Biomedical cluster, which is characterized democratic regimes. The governments of these countries understand that research into health has electoral benefits because it improves the quality of life of their citizens, says Victor Herrero-Solana, Professor of Information and Communication at the University of Granada and one of the authors.

Cluster Two:  Basic Research:  The second major block of countries researches in the field of what is termed 'basic science': physics, mathematics and engineering. This cluster is made up of Russia and the former Soviet countries, Eastern Europe, communist countries like China and Korea, together with Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. Here, research has developed around the model of the traditional scientific academies. For example Russia, Prof. Herrrero-Solana states, is much changed politically but from a scientific point of view it continues to be a communist country.

Cluster Three: Food Resource Research:  The third research block is made up of developing nations: most of Africa, south-east Asia and Latin America. "These countries have not yet developed a national research system and highlight agriculture and fisheries for the simple, practical reason that this enables them to improve GDP."

And the rest?  In their article, the researchers found a group of intermediate, heterogeneous countries "who have not yet opted for any one of these three research models because, although they are striving to develop a Science and Technology system, they remain socio-economically immature." This group includes many Latin American countries like Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
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Story Source:  Materials provided by University of Granada. Félix Moya-Anegón, Víctor Herrero-Solana. Worldwide Topology of the Scientific Subject Profile: A Macro Approach in the Country Level. PLoS ONE, 2013.

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