International Citation Indices : Nordic Developments

The research policy news bulletin Research Europe reports on the Indicator report 2007 with special regards to the development in citations. Despite low spending on R&D, Norwegian researchers have outperformed their neighbours in international citations indices in recent years.
“Norway has had a more positive development in citations than the other Nordic countries and in the past couple of years has passed Sweden and Finland”, Kaja Wendt, senior advisor at NIFU STEP, says to Research Europe.
Norwegian papers received 27 % more citations than the world average in 2005, second among the Nordic countries to Denmark with 38 %. From 1981 to 2005, Norway achieved the biggest increase in the number of citations per paper of all the countries in the region.

Norway spent only 1,7 % of its GDP on R&D in 2005, while Sweden spent 3,9 %, Denmark 2,6 % and Finland 3,4 %. Little work has been done to identify the reasons behind the discrepancy in citations compared with spending, but Wendt has identified several factors that seem to play an important role, Research Europe reports.

An increase in collaboration with foreign researchers could help account increase in citations. “Articles where Norwegian researchers collaborate with foreign colleagues are clearly cited more frequently that articles written only by Norwegian researchers”

“But the most important explanation”, Wendt says to Research Europe, “is likely to be an increase in both the number of researchers and the resources for research”.

Another influence could be Norway’s 2002 university reforms, which introduced incentive-based funding. “It is possible that this has been important for researchers’ tendency to publish, but it may be too early to see real results from this”, Wendt says.

Norway’s focus on clinical medicine could also play a role in the country’s success with citations. Clinical medicine accounts for 26 % of Norwegian articles, and the citation frequency in the field is 30 to 50 % above the world average.

(Excerpts from Michael de Laine’s article “What is Norway doing right in the international world of citations?” Research Europe, 31 January 2008)

Related articles:
“Indicator Report 2007”