New Study on Scientific Progress in Middle East
Although the Middle East produces only 4 percent of the world's scientific literature, its output has grown rapidly during the last ten years and there is evidence of a resurgence in scientific progress. A new Thomson Reuters study identifies the fields of research contributing to this resurgence and also examines the need for change in order to continue the region's recent growth and global scientific presence.
The study, Exploring the Changing Landscape of Arabian, Persian and Turkish Research, includes a foreword from Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Laureate and professor of chemistry and physics, California Institute of Technology. Professor Zewail spells out three essential ingredients for scientific progress in the region: expanding educational opportunities, increasing freedom through the reform of national constitutions, and establishing centers of excellence in science and technology in each nation.
Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters and one of the report's authors, comments: "Investment in research in the Middle East is typically only a quarter of the world average. Increasing resources for research, fostering human capacity through improvements in education, and expanding collaboration internationally are needed to continue the region's recent growth."
According to the study, research output for the 14 countries analyzed in the report increased from 760,000 to more than 1,160,000 publications during the ten-year period. Although the region's scientific output is now growing at a faster rate than any other region, it is doing so from a low and concentrated base where the five largest producers - Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan - currently account for 90 percent of the regional output.
When looking at the influence of scientific literature, as measured by citation impact, the study notes that the five largest producers in the region achieved only half the world average. Influence is improving, however, and in certain fields some nations exceed the world average, making it into the top 1 percent of highly cited papers: these include Egypt and Saudi Arabia in mathematics and Turkey in engineering. Collaboration (co-authorship) within the region and with nations beyond the Middle East is below what is typically observed elsewhere. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia collaborate across their borders on about 40 percent of their publications, while Iran and Turkey do so about half as much or less. The United States is generally the most frequent research partner followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. Egypt, the report observes, holds a pivotal role within the region and serves as a bridge with Europe, North Africa and into the United States and Japan.
The study is part of the Global Research Report series from Thomson Reuters that illustrates the changing landscape and dynamics of scientific research around the world. These studies draw on data found in Web of Science, available on the Thomson Reuters Web of Science platform - the world's largest citation environment of the highest quality scholarly literature, as represented in InCites and other evaluative offerings.
Click here to download a copy of the report.