Global shifts in world science base? A comparative analysis of Central and Eastern Europe with the world’s regions

Slavo Radosevic, Esin Yoruk

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper

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This paper explores the changing role of world regions (CEE, EU15, South EU, Former USSR, North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East) in science base with special reference to EU15 (developed EU) and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in 1981-2011 period based on bibliometric data. The data are extracted from Thomson Reuter’s National Science Indicators (2011) for 21 broad disciplines in science and social sciences. We investigate over time changes in descriptive indicators such as publications, citations, impact as well as scientific specialization measured by revealed comparative advantage (RCA) applied to citations and papers, in three periods – i.e. 1981-1989, 1990-2000 and 2001-2011. Multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering are used to comment on divergence/convergence among world regions. In view of common historical legacy in science we are particularly interested in process of divergence within the post-socialist world as well as in the process of the EU convergence in terms of specialization in major scientific disciplines.
First, our results show that there is global shift in science largely in terms of quantity (papers) and much less in terms of impact (citations). We argue that this should be interpreted as shift in terms of absorptive capacity of science but not necessarily in terms of knowledge generation at world science frontier. Science systems are characterised by strong inertia and by long lasting historically inherited advantages and disadvantages.
Second, three major changes at regional level have been the loss of the excessive specialization of South EU in applied sciences; excessive specialization of CEE and Former USSR in fundamental sciences that has been followed by reduced specialization of the CEE and continuous excessive specialization of the Former USSR and its de-specialization in life sciences; excessive specialization of North America and the Middle East in social sciences (albeit for opposite reasons) that has been followed by reduced specialization of the Middle East and by continuous high specialization of North America.
Third, CEE has shown strong comparative advantages particularly in fundamental sciences and has been catching up in the last decade in applied sciences. This is accompanied by a divergence from the former-USSR and a convergence towards EU15 from 1981-89 period to 2001-2011 period. Together with the Former-USSR region CEE continue to be specialized in fundamental sciences when compared to other world regions which suggest that these regions are facing disproportionally higher problem of (ir)relevance of their science base for technological and industrial bases. Changes in the CEE science systems have been largely in terms of their absorptive capacity rather than in terms of the world frontier activities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2013


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