The citation impact indicates the extent to which reference is made to scientific publications. The more an article is cited, the higher its scientific impact.
This fact sheet discusses differences in citation impact and publication volume between different scientific fields. The fields of Humanities and Law have not been included because no reliable conclusions can be drawn on the basis of the data for those fields. We compare the Netherlands with 17 reference countries, over the period from 2000‑2003 (indicated by “2003”) to 2013-2016 (indicated by “2016”).
This fact sheet is based on publication and citation data from the citation index system drawn up by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), which is based on raw data from Web of Science. The data provides an indication of developments, but does not give a complete picture of all aspects relevant to the quality and extent of Dutch science.
The figure below compares the citation impact score with an indicator of volume: the percentage of Dutch articles in the total number of articles in a given scientific field. The arrows indicate the profile for each field in 2003 and in 2016. To give a clear indication of the trend in development over that period, a straight line has been drawn between 2003 and 2016 (a diagram in the appendix shows the actual development over time).
The above graph shows a number of trends:
A similar picture is apparent from the proportion of publications that are among the top 10% most cited publications worldwide: all the fields score (well) above average and show an increase over the entire period. The exception is once again Agricultural sciences, which remains more or less the same.
In short, the Netherlands has developed in such a way that all the scientific fields now score well above the global average.
As regards the relative proportion of publications, the Netherlands shows an increase in the scientific fields of Behaviour & Social Sciences, Health sciences, and Economics and a decrease in Agricultural sciences, Natural sciences, and Engineering. The rise of China plays a major role in this decline. The proportion of Chinese publications in the fields of Agricultural sciences, Natural sciences, and Engineering increased more sharply between 2003 and 2016 than in the reference countries, namely by 21, 21 and 25 percentage points respectively. As a result, the proportion of Agricultural sciences, Natural sciences, and Engineering publications is declining in a large majority of the reference countries.
The graph above is repeated in the appendix but there China is excluded when calculating the proportion represented by Dutch publications. The proportion of Dutch Agricultural sciences, Natural sciences, and Engineering publications then remains roughly the same: Agricultural sciences goes from 3.5% to 3.7%; Natural sciences from 2.5% to 2.4%; Engineering from 2.2% to 2.3%. In the field of Health, the proportion of Dutch publications without China in fact rises more sharply, from 3.1% to 3.7% of the production of the reference countries.
In the following sections, we discuss the citation impact score and the proportion of Dutch publications in greater detail by making explicit comparisons with the reference countries.
In 2016, the Netherlands was in the top 5 of reference countries with the highest citation impact score for all scientific fields. In the table below, the position of the Netherlands in each field is underlined. Striking points are:
If we look at the development of the citation impact score since 2003 as compared to the reference countries, then the following trends are apparent:
As regards scientific disciplines, the Netherlands scored (well) above the global average in 2016 in almost all disciplines. There are four disciplines for which the citation impact score fell by more than 10%, all within the “STEM” fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics):
The appendix contains the data at discipline level.
The graph below shows the percentage distribution of publications by country across the scientific fields in 2016, ranked by the proportion for Natural sciences and Engineering (combined). It is immediately apparent that the Netherlands has the smallest proportion of Natural sciences and Engineering publications. It is also apparent that the Netherlands has the largest proportion of Health publications. Except for the United Kingdom, the Netherlands also has the largest proportion of publications in Behaviour & Social Sciences.
|Gedrag en Maatschappij||Economie||Gezondheid||Landbouw||Techniek||Natuur|
Over the period from 2003 to 2016, the number of publications for the Netherlands increased in all scientific fields. That increase was far less, however, for Natural sciences, Agricultural sciences, Engineering, and Health sciences than for Behaviour & Social Sciences and Economics. Growth in the number of publications for Behaviour & Social Sciences, Economics, and Health sciences was also faster in the Netherlands than the average for the reference countries.
On average, however, publications for Engineering, Agricultural sciences, and Natural sciences increased more strongly in the reference countries than in the Netherlands. The data shows the powerful influence of China. Over the period as a whole, the total number of Chinese publications increased by almost 600%, far more than in other countries.
If we exclude China, then we see that Dutch publications increased more than the average for all scientific fields except Natural sciences. Dutch Natural sciences publications increased by 29%, while the average increase for the reference countries, excluding China, was 33%.
|% increase in NLD publications||% increase in publications in reference countries||% increase in publications in reference countries, excluding China|
|Behaviour & Social Sciences||197||111||106|
A similar picture is apparent as regards volume growth for the disciplines. Dutch publications in all the social sciences are increasing more strongly than in the reference countries. For all “(natural) sciences and technical” disciplines, the increase is stronger in the reference countries. Even if we exclude China, the increase in the vast majority of “(natural) sciences and technical” disciplines is stronger in the reference countries.
The “life sciences and health” disciplines display a mixed picture. For example, whereas the Netherlands has increased more (116%) in Health Sciences than the reference countries, those countries have increased more (118%) in the field of Fundamental medical sciences.
More information about the disciplines is provided in the appendix.
We see that the citation impact score has risen most strongly since 2003 in the fields of Behaviour & Social Sciences, Economics, and Health sciences. The proportion of publications in relation to the reference countries has also increased for these fields.
Compared to other countries, the Netherlands published the most in the field of Health in 2016 and also – except for the United Kingdom – the most in the field of Behaviour & Social Sciences. For Agricultural sciences, Natural sciences, and Engineering, the citation impact score in 2003 was already well above the global average, and has since remained more or less the same. The proportion of publications as compared to other countries has decreased, mainly due to the strong rise of Chinese science. If we exclude China, the Netherlands’ proportion remains roughly the same. Compared to other countries, the Netherlands published the least in 2016 in the field of Natural sciences and Engineering.
It is difficult to explain the observed differences between the fields in greater detail. This is partly because it is not possible to combine data on publications with (international) figures on FTEs or expenditure because different classifications are used and because the correlation can vary greatly between the different fields.
In order to give a rough indication, we looked at Dutch public-sector R&D expenditure divided across four units: “humanities/social sciences”, “(natural) sciences”, “agricultural sciences”, and “medical sciences”. Data is only available for the period 2007-2015. We then see that R&D expenditure on “agricultural sciences” has risen by 21% and on “(natural) sciences” by 24%, but that expenditure on “humanities/social sciences” and “medical” research has increased more sharply, by 40% and 49% respectively (Eurostat figures). This corroborates the picture of the developments in Dutch science as outlined in this fact sheet.