Research evaluation at country or national level is moving increasingly towards a metric-based system. The most obvious examples of these countries are Australia, with the Research Quality Framework, and the United Kingdom, with the Research Assessment Exercise, where policymakers and administrators are being called upon to submit metrics for national evaluation.

It is interesting to extract two of the indicators researchers, policymakers and administrators focus on, namely article count and citations received at country level. The differences in the number of articles published in each country may not be unexpected but the top 1% and 5% citation thresholds certainly warrant further attention.


An analysis was performed in Scopus to extrapolate the top 1% and 5% of cited papers for ten randomly selected countries within 27 subject categories. The results of this analysis can be found in Table 1 (downloadable below).

The table denotes the number of papers published in each country for a period of five individual years from 2002-6. These counts are then separated into 27 subject categories (as specified in For each of these years and for each subject category, the number of papers that forms a part of the top 1% of highly cited papers was derived.

For the purpose of this analysis, it is important to note that the cut-off date for the data extrapolation was set at September 18, 2007 resulting in a favoring of ‘older’ papers in most instances. To illustrate, we would like to take the example of Australia in the year 2002 where the following result was obtained within the subject category Engineering:

  • There were 2595 papers published in 2002;
  • The top 1% is thus a total of 26 papers (rounded up);
  • The citation threshold equals 36 citations (up to September 18, 2007).

For an Australian researcher this means that if s/he has published a paper in Engineering and has obtained a citation count of higher than 36 (considering the citation cut-off date), that researcher belongs to the top 1% of Australian research output in that year. The table also shows these figures for the top 5% citation threshold for all ten countries spread over the 27 subject categories.

This kind of data can also be used to analyze different results observed between countries. As a result, Research Trends will be providing this data for more countries in the future.

There are many interesting directions in which this research can develop and we welcome your feedback. This will help us to deliver the content you are most interested in.

Table 1 – Snapshots from full table (downloadable below)
Source: Scopus

Click here to download the complete table for all countries

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