Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Asia no longer blinded by US science

American dominance of science and technology has slipped dramatically, according to The National Science Foundation.

The foundation has released its biennial account of the state of S&T in the United States, Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. The 566-page report is a synthesis of thousands of different statistics on the conduct of science and engineering in the US.

"The data begin to tell a worrisome story," said Kei Koizumi, assistant director for federal research and development R&D in the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Calling the report 2010 a "State of the Union on science, technology, engineering and mathematics," he said, "US dominance has eroded significantly."

Over the past decade, R&D intensity--how much of a country's economic activity or gross domestic product is expended on R&D--has grown considerably in Asia, while remaining steady in the US. Annual growth of R&D expenditures in the US averaged five to six percent while in Asia, it has skyrocketed. In some Asian countries, R&D growth rate is two, three, even four, times that of the US.

In terms of R&D expenditures as a share of economic output, while Japan has surpassed the US for quite some time, South Korea is now in the lead.

A digest of the report is here.

Supporting this report's findings was a January 25th Financial Times article, China scientists lead world in research growth. It reports on an October 2009 study by Thomson Reuters on the growth in Chinese scientific research: "‘China has experienced the strongest growth in scientific research over the past three decades of any country, according to figures compiled for the Financial Times, and the pace shows no sign of slowing…. China far outperformed every other nation, with a 64-fold increase in peer-reviewed scientific papers since 1981, with particular strength in chemistry and materials science.”

Jonathan Adams, the project's manager, discusses Chinese scientific research with the BBC here.

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