Journal of Scientometric Research, 2020, 9, 2, 154-162.
Published: September 2020
Type: Research Article
Ricardo Brito1,*, Alonso Rodríguez-Navarro1,2
1Departamento de Estructura de la Materia, Física Térmica y Electrónica and GISC, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Plaza de las Ciencias, Madrid, SPAIN.
2Departamento de Biotecnología-Biología Vegetal, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Avenida Puerta de Hierro, Madrid, SPAIN.
Objectives: Research is the foundation of technological progress; the aim of this study is to investigate research success in the USA, the EU and other countries in basic medical, biochemical and biotechnological topics. Methods: Research assessments were performed using the number of publications, the ep index and the probability that a publication reaches the top 0.01% by citation. The ep index reveals an important characteristic of citation distribution. The distribution of the publications from a country in global percentiles follows a power law and the ep index is a mathematical derivative of the exponent of this power law. In addition to its intrinsic value as performance indicator, this index allows calculating a country’s probability of publishing highly cited papers and, consequently, of achieving important discoveries or scientific breakthroughs. Findings: Our results show that the USA is scientifically ahead of all countries and that its research is likely to produce approximately 80% of the important global breakthroughs in the research topics investigated in this study. EU research has maintained a constant weak position with reference to USA research over the last 30 years. Countries different from the USA and the EU are increasing enormously their number of publications. Currently, the probability that these publications report an important breakthrough is slightly lower than that of the EU.