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Research Outputs: Publications and Patents

Why is this important?

Research produces new knowledge, products, or processes. Research publications reflect contributions to knowledge, patents indicate useful inventions, and citations on patents to the scientific and technical literature indicate the linkage between research and practical application.

Key observations:

Science and engineering articles, by selected countries/regions: 1995–2007

SEI 2010: S&E Article Output, Chapter 5.


The EU-27 leads the world in numbers of S&E articles published, but the United States continues to be the top country producer.

China, with a rapidly developing science base, produced 8% of the world's research publications in 2008, becoming the second largest single-country producer. It ranked 14th in 1995, with 2% of world share.

Field shares of research articles, by selected locations: 2007

NOTE: Natural sciences include astronomy, chemistry, physics, geosciences, mathematics, and computer sciences.
SEI 2010: S&E Article Output, Chapter 5.

Research portfolios

The distribution of a country's research publications across different fields broadly reflects its research priorities and relative strengths, as well as its ability to absorb advances achieved elsewhere.

More than half of U.S. articles report on research in the medical and life sciences. In contrast, more than half of the research articles published by Asian scientists and engineers are in the natural sciences and engineering.

U.S. patents granted, by country/region of inventor: 1990–2008

NOTES: "Other Asia" is China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam. Three-year moving average.
SEI 2010: Global Trends in Patenting, Chapter 6.


Patents protect the property rights of inventors. Patent awards are rising as knowledge-intensive economic activity expands worldwide.

Inventors from around the globe seek patent protection in the United States because of its large and open market. U.S. patents awarded to foreign inventors offer a broad indication of the distribution of inventive activity around the globe.

Inventors in the United States, the EU-27, and Japan produce almost all of these patents. U.S. patenting by Asian inventors is on the rise, driven by activity in Taiwan and South Korea, but Chinese and Indian patenting remains modest.

Citations in U.S. patents to S&E articles, by selected article field: 1998–2008

NOTE: Citation counts lag articles' publication year; for example, articles cited in 2008 patents were published in 1998-2003.
SEI 2010: Patent-to-Literature Citations, Chapter 5.

U.S. patent citations to U.S.-authored articles, by field and author sector: 2008

SEI 2010: Patent-to-Literature Citations, Chapter 5.

Science-patent linkage

Patents list the prior scientific and technological knowledge on which they are built. Increasingly, U.S. patent applications have cited scientific articles as one such source.

Article citations have risen from 92,000 in 1998 to 110,000 in 2008, with 68% of these patent citations being to literature in the biological and medical sciences. About half of the 2008 citations were to non-U.S. articles.

Over 60% of the U.S.–authored articles cited on U.S. patents have academic scientists and engineers as authors, indicating the link between academic research and valuable inventions.

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