Science - November 17, 2011

Dutch scientists ever more productive

Dutch scientists are writing more and more articles. Their productivity grew by 50 percent from 2002 to 2010. What is more, their work is disproportionately influential.

For years there has been a striking contradiction: the Netherlands invests little in science, but the performance of Dutch scientists is outstanding. Almost three percent of all the scientific articles in the world are by Dutch scientists. In the last eight years, the number of academic articles published by Dutch scientists grew by a full 57 percent.

These figures are in a report giving the latest statistics on science, technology and innovation sent to the Dutch lower house of parliament yesterday by State secretary Ziljstra. He refers to the data in the report as 'just one of the information sources', but he hopes that MPs can use the figures in their debates on science, technology and innovation policy.

The report suggests that some countries are overtaking the Netherlands. Scientific production in China, for instance, went up 243 percent. The United States still produces almost one third of all publications worldwide, but China is now in second place with 12.6 percent. Great Britain has to make do with third place.

Yet scientists in these countries are less productive than their Dutch counterparts. For every one hundred scientists in this country, 60 scientific articles are published every year. Only in Switzerland is that figure surpassed, with almost 90 article per year. In the United States only 25 articles per 100 scientists are published.
 Dutch articles are cited disproportionately often as well. These citations are used as a measure of the impact of science. The Netherlands scores 40 percent above the average. Admittedly, Switzerland and Denmark do even better than this, but the Netherlands is streets ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom.