V.9 U.S. Vulnerabilities in Science

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Kevin W. Boyack

Richard Klavans

Kevin W. Boyack and Richard Klavans create maps of science that serve as a platform for planning and evaluation on the national, corporate, and personal levels. Traditional methods of comparing scientific strengths of nations are based on counting papers and citations within journal categories. However, journal category structures are too coarse to accurately show the strengths of smaller nations. Journal-based methods also fail to show the subdisciplinary or multidisciplinary nature of many countries’ strengths. In this map, Boyack and Klavans introduce a method to identify and visualize research leadership using a classification system in which millions of research papers are segmented into over 80,000 clusters. These 80,000 building blocks are individually reassembled for each nation to reveal their areas of research leadership. Analysis of the top-13 publishing nations shows that this new method for measuring research leadership gives a much more accurate and detailed accounting of the actual scientific strengths of nations than does the journal-based method. In particular, the strengths of small nations, along with subdisciplinary and multidisciplinary strength, are more accurately identified using the new method. Overlaying U.S. strengths with those from the top-12 competitive nations shows the areas in which those nations have a leadership role that is not matched by the U.S.


Klavans, Richard, and Kevin W. Boyack. 2010. “Toward an Objective, Reliable and Accurate Method for Measuring Research Leadership.” Scientometrics 82 (3): 539-553.

Boyack, Kevin W. and Richard Klavans. 2008. U.S. Vulnerabilities in Science. Courtesy of SciTech Strategies, Inc. In “5th Iteration (2009): Science Maps for Science Policy-Makers,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Elisha F. Hardy. http://scimaps.org.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.