scientific output

The incredible growth of science in the Muslim world: The scientific output of Muslim countries in 2017

The scientific output of Muslim-majority countries has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, measured in the number of scientific and scholarly papers published in international journals. The top scientific publisher is Iran, followed by Turkey, followed by Malaysia:

The scientific output of the top 10 Muslim-majority population countries according to SJR (citable documents alone)

Below is the total of the scientific output of all ten countries:

The data only includes citable papers published in peer-reviewed journals included in the Scopus database (source: Scimago Journal & Country Rank).

In just ten years, these Muslim countries went from publishing 64110 papers in 2007 to 211287 papers in 2017, growing by over three times.

Below is a comparison of the Muslim total (blue) with the established scientific powers France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States:

The Muslim total has surpassed all of the European powers in quantity (not in quality, of course).

If the Muslim countries maintain their growth rate of 7.7% annually (the average rate of the past 5 years), they will surpass the United States by 2030:

It seems unlikely that that kind of growth can be sustained. The image below is more likely, which assumes an increase of 14000 papers per year (the average annual increase over the past 5 years). Accordingly, the Muslim countries will reach the level of the United States by 2042:

It should be noted that these statistics do not take account of the 200 million Muslims of India and their scientific output.

Indonesia’s unlocked scientific potential?

The Scimago Journal & Country Rank is one of the things I look forward to most to seeing every year. The rankings show each country’s scientific output, a very important measure of a country’s present level of development and its speed of development. The biggest surprise in the 2017 rankings was from Indonesia, whose cited paper count jumped from 11,765 in 2016 to 18,683 in 2017:

Source: Scimago Journal & Country Rank

In 2016, Indonesia was number 45 on world rankings for scientific output. Thanks to the 2017 jump, in 2017 it was number 35.

Indonesia has been a great laggard in scientific output due to its lack of development. Its papers per million capita (PPMC) is 71 compared to Malaysia’s 925. Only 16 years before 2017, in 2002, Malaysia’s PPMC was 72, comparable to Indonesia today. If Indonesia follows the same development trajectory as Malaysia (the way South Korea followed Japan), by 2032 Indonesia will be one of the world’s top scientific powerhouses. Due to Indonesia’s vastness compared to Malaysia, their development will likely take longer; however, the availability of newer and cheaper technologies may speed development up so that they end up following Malaysia’s trajectory despite their handicaps.

If Indonesia ever catches up to Malaysia’s present level of scientific output, it would be publishing 241,000 papers per year, making it the world’s third largest science hub after the US and China.

Almost all of the world’s countries are seeing a great increase in scientific output, caused by adopting Western methods of scientific research and publishing. Pakistan’s output doubled between 2010 and 2017. Egypt did similarly. Iran publishes more papers per capita than Russia. I believe we are in for some very interesting times.