Top 8 Countries With The Highest Number Of Scientific Publications In The World

By Victor Kiprop on January 22 2020 in World Facts

China has overtaken the United States as the country with the most publications.
China has overtaken the United States as the country with the most publications.

The United States National Science Foundation details science and engineering articles and tracks the number of publications made by countries. Over the past decade, the number of publications has risen at an annual rate of around 4%, with China registering tremendous growth. In 2018, about 2.55 million articles were published globally, a significant increase compared to the 1.75 million recorded in 2008. The United States has consistently registered more publications than any other country since the beginning of the millennium. In 2008, the US published 140,000 more articles than China. A decade later, China has overtaken the United States as the country with the most publications. In 2018, the Asian country published about 528,263 articles while the North American state published 422,808. China accounts for about a fifth of the global publications, while the United States accounts for 16.54%. India comes a distant third with about 135,788. The European Union jointly published 622,000 articles, accounting for nearly a quarter of the global publications.

Countries With The Most Scientific Publications


China has experienced tremendous growth in almost all sectors, and its researchers have not been left behind. Over the past decade, Chinese publications have been growing at double the global rate. Chemistry publications account for about half of China’s output, but articles on physical sciences are also published in large numbers. Top performing institutes include Nanjing University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, and Peking University. In 2008, China published 249,049 articles, and a decade later, it more than doubled the publications to 528, 623.

United States

The United States may have lost its top spot to China, but it still manages to publish impressive numbers of scientific articles. In 2008, it published 394,979, and a decade later, the number had risen to 422,808. US publications have been inconsistent as the country reported more publications in 2017 than in 2018. Nevertheless, it leads the world in the quality of articles published. Top performers are Stanford University, MIT, Harvard University, and the National Institute of health. Life sciences account for about 50% of the publications followed by chemistry, physical sciences, and environmental sciences.


India ranks a distant third, but the country has made tremendous progress in scientific publications. In 2008, it published 48,998 articles, and a decade later, the figure had risen to more than 135,788 articles. Today, India accounts for about 5.3% of the global scientific publications. Despite the increasing numbers, the quality of research produced by Indian scholars has attracted criticism from the University Grants Commission as only 15.8% are featured in reputable journals. A large number of researchers and students opt for “substandard journals” to avoid criticism. In 2018, the commission released a list of journals where researchers should publish their articles to be considered for academic credit.


Germany may not lead the world in the number of publications, but it is a source of high-quality research. In 2018, the country published 104,396 articles. Top institutions in the country are the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers and the Max Planck Society. The most published articles are on physical sciences, life sciences, chemistry, and environmental Studies. In recent years, Germany has become a preferred destination for emerging researchers due to its reputation and government support. The German Research Foundation funds long-term research of up to 12 years, which allows researchers to commit to long-term projects.


Japan published 98,793 articles in 2018. Just like Germany, Japan stresses more on the quality rather than the quantity of research and has made a name for itself in the scientific community as a source of high-quality research. The government funds selected institutions to cooperate with researchers from other countries. Top performing institutes are the University of Tokyo, Osaka University, and Kyoto University. Japan has experienced a slight increase in its total output over the past decade, but its collaboration with other countries has increased tremendously. In the recent past, the pressure to publish articles has resulted in a drop in the quality of publications.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom remains one of the world’s best sources of scientific research, although Brexit threatens its cooperation with other members of the European Union. In 2018, the UK published 97, 681 articles. Top institutions in the country include the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London, and Imperial College London. Top collaborators with the United Kingdom in 2018 were the United States, Germany, and France. Animal researchers were dealt a blow after authorities opted to shutdown key animal research facilities in the country.


Russia was a scientific giant, but the country stopped paying much attention to the scientific community and research after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although it published 81,579 articles in 2018, Russia has a reputation for poor research that often attracts criticism from the research community. In January 2020, academic journals in the country announced that they would retract more than 800 papers due to unethical publication practices. The quality of higher education in the country is wanting and not attractive to researchers in the West or East.

The Rapid Growth Of Chinese Publications

In just over a decade, China has overtaken the United States in the number of research publications, and in the coming decade, it is set to surpass the European Union. The rapidly growing economy and the government’s focus on research has played a critical role in the new development. Among the changes made are the introduction of a remuneration system to compensate researchers for their work. This approach is not yet implemented in the United States or the European Union. At the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century, Italy, Germany, and Great Britain produced the most research and publications. In the 1920s, the United States took the lead and remained top for the next 90 years. China started to gain ground in the mid-1990, and by 2018, it had surpassed the United States. Although the United States allocates more funding to research and development than China, the future looks brighter for the latter as the US allocation stagnates while China grows its research expenditure annually.

Top 8 Countries With The Highest Number Of Scientific Publications In The World

RankCountryNumber of science and engineering articles published in peer-reviewed journals in 2018
2United States422,808
6United Kingdom97,681

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