By Faranak Bakhtiari

A decade of growth in research and science production

February 23, 2022 - 16:51

TEHRAN – A review of Scopus global ranking in terms of the normalized citation index over the past 10 years shows that Iran has moved up to 16th place in 2020 from 22nd in 2011.

Studies show that in 2021, the number of Iranian scientific articles indexed by the Scopus International Citation Database has reached 77,351. This figure was equal to 71,971 in 2020 and 64,988 in 2019.

The 2021 data have not been yet completed and the mentioned figure will increase again. While scientific articles and the latest research findings of Iranian researchers in 2019 received about 0.08 percent more than the international average citation, in 2020, it has increased to 14 percent.

Therefore, research made by Iranians conducted in 2020 has become more qualitative. Also, research activities resulting from Iran's international participation in science production were about 27.4 percent in 2019, which has increased to 30.7 percent in 2020. 

The share of Iranian articles in the top 1 percent of the world highly cited was 1.2 percent in 2019, which has reached 1.3 percent in 2020. This group of articles has the highest number of citations in the world of science.

Quantity growth

The results of the studies show that the total scientific documents of Iran indexed in the Scopus citation database during the history (1818-2020, approximately 202 years) was equal to 663,077 cases, of which about 440,934 cases, equaling 66 percent, has been in the most difficult conditions of U.S. sanctions in the country in recent years (2013-2020).

Among the top 20 countries in the world, Turkey is in the first place in terms of the growth of the number of documents in Scopus. Italy, China, Spain, and Brazil are following Turkey in terms of the highest growth of the quantity of science production in 2020.

Quality growth

In the normalized citation average index, which is introduced in Scopus as Field weighted citation impact, the number of citations is normalized according to the field and year of publication of the article.

The article published in 2019 is compared with the articles of 2019 and the article published in 2020 with the articles of 2020. In other words, an article published in 2019 had more opportunities to be cited than an article published in 2020.

In terms of the normalized citation index, over the past 10 years, Iran was ranked 22nd in 2011, which has gradually improved to rank 17th in 2018 and 2019 and finally 16th in 2020.

Therefore, Iran has improved its research quality by 6 steps during the last 10 years.

Iran is growing rapidly, but in any case, the country needs to strengthen itself in the field of scientific citation.

Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Canada, the United States, Germany, France, Spain, and Taiwan receive far more citations than Iran.

 Development of science diplomacy

One of the indicators of the growth science diplomacy is conducting joint research between two or more countries, Iran has written more than a third of its articles in Scopus in 2020 with international participation, which is about 30.7 percent.

In 2019, the articles with international participation reached 27.4 percent, so compared to 2019, Iranian researchers increased their international scientific contributions by 3.3 percent. It should be noted that in 2020 more articles were published internationally by Iranian researchers, but nevertheless, the amount of international participation has increased.

Iran's share in world's top 1% highly cited articles 

The share of Iranian articles in the top 1 percent of most cited articles in Scopus has reached 1.3 percent in 2020, up from 1.2 percent in 2019, showing a 0.1 percent increase.

To select the top 1 percent of highly cited articles, Scopus first segregates articles by the subject area each year. The reason for this is the difference in the number of citations received in different fields. 

Iranian articles increase in Q1 publications in 2020

In 2020, about 42 percent of Iran's articles were published in Q1 Scopus. The share of Iranian articles in Q1 magazines in 2019 was about 39 percent. Therefore, in 2020, Iranian researchers published about three percent more articles in Q1 than in 2019.

Iran’s scientific growth seen to continue in 2022

Studies show that Iran enters the year 2022 with the 15th rank in science production worldwide and it is expected to make progress over the next years as the coronavirus pandemic is going to ease.

In reviewing scientific products, various indicators such as publication of articles in prestigious international journals, citations, validity of journals, the level of productivity, and scientific impact of scientists are considered quantitatively and qualitatively.

According to the latest information on science production, Iran is ranked 15th in the world in the international system of Web of Science in 2021, with an h-index of 383, which indicates the quality of Iranian articles registered.

Iran’s scientific position in the Web of Science over the last 5 years shows that the production of conference papers has been on a downward trend during 2020 and 2021 due to the outbreak.

The share of Iranian science production from conference papers has dropped from 7.38 percent in 2017 to 1.26 percent in 2021.

In the SCOPUS international regulations, the most important research areas of Iran in the production of science in 2021 have been medicine, engineering, and materials science, respectively.

Iran's scientific partner countries were the United States, China, and Canada in 2021, the United States, Canada, and China in 2020, and the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Web of Science shows that the coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected the percentage of conference papers. The share of Iranian science production from conference papers in the Scopus database in 2021 was estimated at 1.80 percent, which was 6.50 percent in 2017 and 5.85 percent in 2018.

Moreover, the SCImago ranking system deals separately with the ranking of countries in science production, ranking Iran as 40th in 2021 in terms of h-index. Also, in terms of the number of articles, Iran's index is 376.

NATURE INDEX also shows that in 2021, considering that the latest update of this international system for science production reports has not been completed yet, Iran’s overall ranking is 35th, which was 33 in 2020.

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