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Citation Map Shows Top Science Cities 167

Posted by timothy
from the not-well-correlated-with-good-beaches dept.
mikejuk writes "Which cities around the world produce not just the most but the best scientific papers? Using a database and Google Maps the answer is obvious. A paper at Physics arXiv describes how two researchers combined citation data with Google maps to create a plot showing how important cities around the world were in terms of their contribution to physics, chemistry or psychology."
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Citation Map Shows Top Science Cities

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  • by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <zalanmeggyesi&yahoo,com> on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:00PM (#35551366)

    This is a typical symptom of scientists/researchers having way too much free time on their hands. They need to find a way to spend it properly, or they will kill us all one day.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure your God won't allow that to happen.

      • We really need a glyph to indicate humor or sarcasm, since apparently some people wouldn't know it if it hit them in the face with a sledgehammer...

        • Yeah, if only there was punctuation symbol widely acknowledged to indicate sarcasm!

          Or, failing that, perhaps even a widely used convention would be nice. Or not. ;)

        • by guruevi (827432)

          All we need to do is educate Americans in proper English, classic reading as well as writing skills. Then they would be able to understand both humor and sarcasm. If the highlight of University courses in English is Shakespeare then we have lost.

    • by severoon (536737)
      Did they adjust for the researcher population? Of course a big city with 100x the number of researchers will produce 100x the results...
    • by arivanov (12034)

      I would not say so.

      That is what is the key factor in determining how much funding you get. The chart gives a good initial estimate of the likelihood for a site to produce a cited paper.

      One comment however - the method used is skewed slightly against Russian and Chinese. These two countries still have a significant amount of stuff published in their native language journals and those tend to get less than average citations from abroad.

      It is also surprising that places crippled by war and sanctions around ex

  • misleading metrics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:07PM (#35551434) Journal

    "Number of links" has always struck me as an odd metric (see also PageRank). The greatest work from the PoV of scientific advancement isn't necessarily the most cited. The greatest determinant will be how fashionable a particular field is - a few leading researchers in a particular field are likely to have a huge number of cites, especially if they constitently reach the well-known publications [plosone.org], but it doesn't necessarily mean the field is very scientifically interesting.

    Then, even if great progress has been made, you get the effect that people don't necessarily cite the seminal investigations so much as the pioneering refiners.

    Another interesting effect, of course, is the difference between provenance of researcher [fas.org] and location of publication [thomsonreuters.com]. The US and the UK are particularly good at draining other countries of already well-educated people, but this doesn't mean that the US or the UK have performed the academic preparation necessary to produce excellent researchers.

    • by mikejuk (1801200)

      ... The US and the UK are particularly good at draining other countries of already well-educated people, but this doesn't mean that the US or the UK have performed the academic preparation necessary to produce excellent researchers.

      Ah but it doesn't alter the location of the centers that are doing well. If you are interested in identifying places that are doing the best/most work then you don't caer if the people doing the work have come from somewhere else!

      • Surely it is as interesting to find out what produces the excellent researchers as it is to find out what consumes them:

        (i) from the PoV of improving education at home and abroad;

        (ii) for countries with potential for local scientific growth to note where they are losing out and consider how to improve;

        (iii) to perhaps produce a more distributed network of research centres rather than consolidating skills in a few dozen centres across the world. (Is so much centralisation necessary or even positive?)

        In parti

        • I can think of no better way for a nation to acquire skills than to import people that some other country has gotten to the point of finishing undergraduate training, pouring in the high-value-added grad school, and working them to death as postdocs on the slim hope that they'll score a tenure-track faculty position.

          Besides, given the dismal job prospects of most science PhDs, Americans are often making a very rational choice to stay out of those fields. If you want to work yourself to death, medical or
        • by sznupi (719324)
          Even "per capita in a given metro area" would make TFA more revealing... :/ (that said, even a map which tracks the educational steps of "most accomplished / cited" group shouldn't be too hard; it's all basically public info)
    • by metlin (258108)

      The first report that you linked to is very interesting -- thank you.

      It provides an overview of non-U.S. citizens who were awarded doctorates in science and engineering, but there is no comparison against U.S. citizens provided, other than this little excerpt.

      From the paper:

      Some academics and scientists do not view scientific migration as a problem, but as a net gain.
      These proponents believe that the international flow of knowledge and personnel has enabled the
      U.S. economy to remain at the cutting-edge of s

    • by pongo000 (97357)

      The US and the UK are particularly good at draining other countries of already well-educated people, but this doesn't mean that the US or the UK have performed the academic preparation necessary to produce excellent researchers.

      Cite needed.

      • The part before the "but" is covered above.

        The part after the "but" is a statement of logic: we cannot assume that a university in country X full of good researchers implies that country X provides good preparation for research (or any sort of good education). Are you asking for evidence that the US education system is not as good as its research output would speciously suggest?

    • by Mathlol1 (1962554)
      A very good idea and I for one am curious where the smartest or most influential people in their fields originate(d) from. We will never know the origins of the smartest people. The only connection the public has to them is where they ended up and made a name for themselves. It would be pretty hard and darn hard to track that next step to this process they've mapped.
    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      I think this is a generic problem with metrics: the things that are easy to measure do not necessarily correspond with the things you want to know. While citations have some relation to the scientific value of publications, it is not an extremely strong correlation. And since citations play a major role in performance evaluation of researchers, there is motivation to game the system.

      On the other hand, you cannot directly measure some property that is not clearly defined. Is it better to measure something th

    • by cb123 (1530513)

      If you read the paper or click on the maps you will actually see that they DO NOT CORRECT for local population density. So, the metric in question is absolute rather than "per capita" productivity. This doesn't entirely invalidate it, but it calls into question how you would verbalize or interpret the results.

      I mean, if 8 of the top 10 cities for science *by any metric* are also 8 of the top 10 cities by population you have said something less interesting. These cities are already top cities for "being"

      • If you read the paper or click on the maps you will actually see that they DO NOT CORRECT for local population density. So, the metric in question is absolute rather than "per capita" productivity. This doesn't entirely invalidate it, but it calls into question how you would verbalize or interpret the results.

        Local population density is pretty irrelevant here, too, unless your question is "what is the probability that I will meet the author of a journal article while walking down the street?" (To be fair, that is something one might be interested in when choosing where to live, but even in large cities there are often university enclaves near campus.) If you put a university with ten thousand students in a city of a million people, all other things being equal there's no reason why its scientific output ough

        • by cb123 (1530513)

          I actually was thinking of "what city would I like to live in". :-) You are correct that not all "capita"s are equally relevant and probably a total of grad students plus professors is a better denominator. Less refined census data than that is easier to come by, though. I do think that bigger cities support more schools and/or bigger graduate departments, other things being equal. So, in a vague statistical correlation sense just bulk census data gets you part of the way there.

          If the real question is "

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      If it is the place where the best people from around the world go to to work together, that is significant.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      CI is a bad indicator as a quality of a particular paper or a field but it's ok when applied to the whole science (not just a field, as you are saying).

      The fact that a man has BMW does not mean that he is rich, but the fact that Moscow has N BMW's and Kiev has M is a significant indicator.

  • Sorry Southern US, maybe next year.

    P.S. Austin, TX isn't in the south. It is San Francisco colonizing you.

    • Offtopic, I know (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:23PM (#35551556)

      P.S. Austin, TX isn't in the south. It is San Francisco colonizing you.

      Every Southerner would agree with you. In fact, most Southerns believe that Texas isn't even in the South. It's its own separate, crazy entity.

    • by cobrausn (1915176)
      Might explain why it infuriates me every time I go there. Or it could be going to the grocery store and watching hipsters buy lobster and wine with food stamps. Not sure. I've always considered Austin where people talk about accomplishing things and Houston where they actually do it. Austin is also very heavily represented in Chemistry because half the population is UT students, and UT has a lot of post-grads.

      Also, nobody colonizes Texas. Nobody. Except Mexico. But aside from them, nobody.
      • Funny all my friends here in Austin say Houston is a nice place to be FROM...

        Lobster? Seriously? Hipsters, yes. They'll grow up some day, but for now, they are far more tolerable than the inner-city crime associated with Houston.

        There 1.5 million residents in Austin and surrounding area and about 50,000 UT students, most of whom are not Chemistry students, so that assessment is not valid either.

        • by cobrausn (1915176)

          Funny all my friends here in Austin say Houston is a nice place to be FROM...

          Your hipster friends? :)

          Besides, that smell in Houston? That's the smell of Money.

          Lobster? Seriously? Hipsters, yes. They'll grow up some day, but for now, they are far more tolerable than the inner-city crime associated with Houston.

          Well, it's a good thing most of the 4.5 million people in the greater Houston area don't live in the 'crime ridden' inner-city areas. Hipsters just annoy me, they don't actually seem to hurt much except productivity. Crime, on the other hand... well, if we weren't once considered a 'sanctuary city', I doubt it would be near as bad.

          There 1.5 million residents in Austin and surrounding area and about 50,000 UT students, most of whom are not Chemistry students, so that assessment is not valid either.

          Half was meant in an exaggerative manner. All that was meant by that statement was that Aus

          • I'm 42. We don't have hipsters at my age. We are too young for hippies and too old for hipsters.

            All I could smell in Houston was smog and humidity.

            You are seriously the only person on the planet advocating Houston over Austin. For one, Houston is East Texas, which is the same thing as Louisiana.

            • by cobrausn (1915176)

              You are seriously the only person on the planet advocating Houston over Austin. For one, Houston is East Texas, which is the same thing as Louisiana.

              I'm not advocating anything - merely pointing out my observations from my time in Austin. I was interested in moving there once. Then I wasn't. That simple. Your attitude throughout this is underpinning why - the Austinites I met had delusions of cultural grandeur mixed with disdain for everyone else who isn't as 'weird' as you all claim to be or refused to acknowledge the inherent superiority of everything Austin. Sure, it has things that make it interesting, but nothing on the scale that seems to exi

    • by slyrat (1143997)

      Sorry Southern US, maybe next year.

      P.S. Austin, TX isn't in the south. It is San Francisco colonizing you.

      Hey at least Atlanta (GaTech primarily I'm guessing) is showing up well for Chemistry. Actually it would be neat to see something similar for other engineering and science fields. I'm real curious about computer science / math papers.

    • I live in Austin. I ain't no South. The worst part about Austin, however, is it is surrounded by Texas.

  • The Maps (Score:4, Informative)

    by Big_Oh (623570) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:17PM (#35551510) Homepage
    Physics: http://www.leydesdorff.net/topcity/figure1.htm [leydesdorff.net] Chemistry: http://www.leydesdorff.net/topcity/figure2.htm [leydesdorff.net] Psychology: http://www.leydesdorff.net/topcity/figure1.htm [leydesdorff.net] And for the record, the authors refer to these as "fields of study", not "fields of science."
  • Do NOT, I repeat do NOT, outsource any of the research or implementation of the Super Large Hadron Collider to anyone living in or around Moscow.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In what software did they write the paper? Word 97? It is absolutly infuriating to see a scientific paper not written in TeX-based software.

    • Get over it (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Word is now extremely standard in academics, including engineering and science disciplines. The reason is that what the researchers are interested in is actually getting their ideas out to the world, not proving they are toughguys by using TeX. What you use to create doesn't matter all that much since journals are very much saying "Give us a PDF," they don't really care how it was created. So you just choose what is easiest for you to do your paper in that looks good and can export to PDF. Word plus Mathtyp

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Word is now extremely standard in academics, including engineering and science disciplines.

        It is common. It is not standard. It varies from discipline to discipline, and journal to journal.

        not proving they are toughguys by using TeX.

        You're biased. It is hardly being a "toughguy" to use TEX. Sounds like a marketing lowlife talking, trying to manipulate with emotion rather than argument.

        however realize the world has moved on and left you behind.

        It is not "moving on" to use a proprietary product in scien

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @07:01PM (#35554170)

          I don't give a shit. My job isn't selling software, it isn't publishing papers, it isn't writing papers. It is supporting computers of people who write papers. A side effect of this job is that I get to see what software they need. Our top requested apps (to the point they are part of the standard install)? Word and Matlab. TeX is not on that list. That isn't to say it is gone, just that it is in minority use. The people who need it request it special (usually MikTeX and Winedt).

          The other software highly requested, though less now, is Acrobat, the full thing, to turn documents in to PDFs to go to the journals. These days the Word users tend to just use the included MS plugin, though some still like the full Acrobat. All the TeX types use Acrobat because it makes conversion real easy (you just print to the distiller and it makes a PDF of it). For the few grad students that use TeX it is usually CutePDF since that's free and generally does fine with PDF generation.

          The reason for my "tough guy" remark is his attitude that it is "infuriating" to see something written in anything but TeX. This has the attitude of "I spent all this time learning it, everyone else should have to to! You aren't a REAL man unless you do!" The content should matter, not the tool, to someone who actually cares about what is being said and isn't being silly about it.

          Times change. Deal with it. If you don't like Word because it is proprietary (by the way if you think that is the only proprietary thing used in research you are in for a nasty, nasty, surprise) then maybe you need to work on an open tool that is just as easy to use. The researchers aren't interested in OSS zealot arguments, they are interested in getting their shit done and for many of them Word is easier. If there were a free tool that was as good, perhaps they'd be interested in that. Never met the researcher that didn't want to save a dollar whenever they can.

          Don't just bitch though because you spent time learning TeX and are mad that others don't have to.

          • by koxkoxkox (879667)

            It is infuriating because of the difference in output quality, not because Word is proprietary or whatever other reason. Can you guess how the first poster was able to know the article was typeset using Word ? The paragraphs of text are not justified, the 'fi' ligature are not made, formulas are awful, the link for figure 1 is separated from the picture by a page break, etc.

            Actually, it is not actually Word's fault here, it is just a very badly typeset paper and one can do much better with Word.

            I also didn'

            • Not a scientist here, but are scientific papers actually expected to be justified? The APA (psychology) requires left alignment with NO justification, for readability.

          • by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @11:48PM (#35555888)
            Maybe you've never gotten request for TeX because it's free. I'm an academic (post-doc) and I use tech every day, but I've never ask computer support people for it.
            • Well most of the systems in the department, we manage, meaning that nobody but us has admin access. As such we know everything that gets installed on it. Also, because our boss is a really good guy and has done a good job creating a helpful environment, people tend to ask us for just about everything since it is easier for them. When you get a new computer just give IT a list and all your shit is there.

              I've got a pretty good idea of the software usage in the department. Like I said, TeX is there. There are

  • Rochester, NY (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmacs27 (1314285) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:29PM (#35551606)
    It seems that the University of Rochester should have published at least one article in Physics, Chemistry, or Psychology. In fact, I've gone and verified that there were many. Yet still, Rochester does not appear on any of the maps. That makes me wonder about these data...
    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      I wasn't aware there was a St. Petersberg so close to my house in Ohio.... but it shows up on 2 of the maps.
  • Is it a sign that our world is becoming too PC? Can't we still call it Fort Collins, and not just Collins? Is "Fort" too war-mongering for society today?

    • University Park, PA is listed as "University."

      Apparently a "park" is too play-mongering for these researchers so they renamed it.

      [/sarcasm] seriously now, why would you jump to the conclusion anti-war political correctness was why the name was truncated?

  • I looked at Yorktown Heights, NY (about 50 mi north of NYC), but saw no papers indicated. Yet that's IBM's main R&D center. I suspect the data is not properly representative.

  • by schwnj (990042) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:37PM (#35551688)
    In looking at the psychology map, I am suspicious that the authors made a minor error in their data collection. The database they used (Web of Science, Science Citation Index) does contain a category for psychology; however, it lists only the 71 psychology journals that are in the physiological/cognitive subfields of psychology. The overwhelming majority of psychology journals (almost 500 of them) are not in those fields, so the search should have also included the Social Science Citation Index data (also part of the Web of Science, just involves clicking another box). I suspect the authors only used the Science (and not Social Science) database because the data displayed on the map seems to over-represent programs that are strong in physio/cognitive, and under-represents (or ignores) programs that are strong in social, developmental, and clinical psychology.
    • Cognitive scientist here (well, sort of...I deal in academic tests and metrics)...that's because cognition is the only important field of psychology ;-)

  • I wonder how long before someone slaps the map authors as being racist, as it is so obviously politically incorrect, with green largely clustered in US and Europe.

  • Moscow and Kiev have big red circles on the physics maps. I wonder if it is an interesting case study to discover why. Is it a language barrier or are the publications not relevant enough. I personaly believe the issue is not the quality of the publications, russia (and former ussr) has allways produced great scientists.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      It may be the signal-to-noise ratio; unless I've been very much misled (not beyond the realms of possibility, I freely admit), Russia/China/Eastern Europe do have a much greater problem with academic dishonesty than the west (and I have also heard it said that they are more accepting of 'success' by dishonesty, but I don't have remotely enough firsthand experience of their cultures to know whether I agree with that), meaning that the work of the many extremely capable scientists they do produce could well b

      • The Hungarian system is fairly critical, not really accepting of dishonesty. Then again, I'm in Political Science, so I can't speak for other fields.

        I do know that in the past, we used to produce many high-quality scientists, who later emigrated to the West around the start of WWII, collectively termed "Martians", but since then, the educational system has gone downhill in quality, not quality control and rigor, just the material being taught to students. Hence the small, but very green circle of Budapest i

  • Is this a SAT test question? Physics, Chemistry, and Psychology? Why not Voodoo or Phrenology?
    • by Nigel Stepp (446)

      For those reading who aren't trolls: If you happen to think this way, then your definition of psychology probably comes from elementary school, TV, or a college intro course (which too often amounts to about the same thing). There are many branches of psychology; the least scientific of which seem to be the most well known to layfolk. Although I do agree that some fMRI studies of the brain can be pretty close to phrenology.

  • Language? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Moscow's Physics and Chemistry papers would be IN RUSSIAN. Hence they would not be as commonly cited by English authors. Hence the large red circle on Moscow. Different language != poor quality research.

    • And yet, the same is true of all the other nations as well. We are talking German, Hiragana, Katakana, Mandarin, Hindi, Tamil, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc. Now of the others have MONSTER BIG RED SPOTS. So, why do you think that you are different?
  • by loufoque (1400831) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @02:57PM (#35552208)

    Is the only thing you can really conclude from the psychology map.

  • The University of Arizona is the 4th top ranked University for Analytical Chemistry, and important advances in solar cell research, organic LEDs (OLEDs), and CCDs for analytical use were pioneered here. Any such plot that does not include UA is obviously flawed, especially considering that Arizona State University was listed. ASU's Chemistry program is simply not of the same caliber.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The data plotting is deeply flawed : when you go on the chemistry map (http://www.leydesdorff.net/topcity/figure2.htm) in France, the data about Nice (south East of France) displayed by hovering over the corresponding circle correspond to the town of Strasbourg (situated in the East of France, along the German border roughly at the same latitude than Paris).

    And the data about Lille (north of France) corresponds to a town (Rueil Malmaison) situated in the suburbs of Paris. I found a couple other bugs of the

  • I see lots of chemistry is done in Argonne Illinois. That's funny since Argonne is a lab, not a city. (Argonne National Laboratory.) Probably in Westmont. At least they got Batavia right (FNAL.)

  • Misuse of statistical significance testing, false identification of measurements with high level concepts ("highly cited" = "high quality"), and the ecological fallacy, all rolled into one paper! That's quite an achievement!

  • Going on the map there are more nutjobs per-square-mile in the advanced west than the rest of the planet. link [leydesdorff.net]

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