Since the 1980s, the impact of scientific papers from Austria has
been rising steadily, from a point well below the overall world
average to a current score that exceeds the world mark and
surpasses the combined impact average of the European Union
nations, while also comparing favorably to larger neighbor nations
such as Germany.
Graph# 1 to the right shows the relative citation impact for
Austria—that is, the nation’s cites-per-paper average
reflecting all fields—compared to the overall world average
(represented as 1.00 on the graph’s y axis) over a series of
overlapping five-year periods from 1985 to 2008. Also tracked, for
comparison, are analogous scores from a couple of neighboring
nations—one small (Belgium) and one large
(Germany)—along with a combined impact figure representing
the current 27 member nations of the European Union (EU).
Of these comparative nations, Belgium is roughly similar to Austria
in output, having fielded approximately 16,000 papers in 2008,
according to National Science Indicators, compared to
Austria’s 11,000-odd. Germany’s 2008 output, meanwhile,
was above 87,000, while the collective EU nations accounted for
more than 425,000 papers.
As the graph indicates, from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s the
impact of Austrian research lagged the world average, also scoring
notably below Belgium, Germany, and the EU bloc.
By the early 90s, however, Austria’s overall impact was on
the rise, first paralleling and then surpassing the EU figures,
ultimately moving toward the scores of Belgium and Germany. As of
the latest five-year period, reflecting 2004 to 2008,
Austria’s impact mark matched that of Germany precisely,
coming in at 29% above the world average, just slightly below
Belgium’s score of 32% above the world baseline. (The
EU’s overall impact, meanwhile, registered at 9% above the
For a closer look at Austria’s recent concentration in
science as reflected in the Clarivate database, the table at
the bottom of this page presents 21 main fields, showing
Austria’s percent share in each (that is, the number of
papers bearing at least one author address in Austria, as a
percentage of all Clarivate-indexed papers) for the period
2004 to 2008.
Austria’s highest representation over the latest five-year
period proved to be in Space Science, with participation in 818
reports, constituting 1.37% of the 59,699 papers in the field
indexed by Clarivate during that time. Clinical Medicine was
next, with Austria’s total of 12,974 papers (its highest
actual paper tally of any of the fields shown) constituting 1.29%
of the more than 1 million Clinical Medicine papers indexed during
the five years.
The right-hand columns of the table show, respectively,
Austria’s cites-per-paper average in each field, and the
nation’s relative-impact score as compared to the world
average for the 2004-08 period. In Space Science, for example, the
impact of papers coauthored by Austria-based researchers was 15%
below the average for the field (that is, Austria’s score of
6.05 cites per paper compared to the world Space Science impact
average of 7.14 cites per paper).
By contrast, the impact of Austria’s 4,686 Thomson
Reuters-indexed papers in the main field of Physics registered at
67% above the impact figure for the field (6.96 versus the world
mark of 4.16). Plant & Animal Science proved to be another area
of solid relative impact, with Austria’s average of 4.21
cites per paper surpassing the world figure of 3.17 by 33%.
Overall, in all but three of these main fields, the impact of
Austria exceeded the world average.
The fields of Physics and Plant & Animal Science also feature
prominently in graph# 2 above, which tracks relative impact in five
selected disciplines since 1985, in a series of overlapping
five-year periods. Physics is clearly dominant, proceeding from a
mark of 14% above the world average to its latest standing at +67%.
The five fields shown were selected by virtue of their notable
upward progress since the 1985-89 period. By that measure, none
surpassed Clinical Medicine, in which the impact of Austria-based
research rose from more than 40% below the world average to its
current score at 26% above. (The progress is even more striking if
one looks farther back to 1981-85, before the initial period shown
in the graph, when Austria’s impact in Clinical Medicine was
56% below the world baseline.) Agricultural Sciences, similarly,
rose from nearly 40% below the world figure to 17% above in the
Finally, for a quick look at Austria’s most-cited paper of
recent years, Science Watch consulted Clarivate
Essential Science IndicatorsSM, which tracks
highly cited research over the last decade. For that period, the
most-cited paper featuring an Austria-based author is a 1999 report
on the physics of materials, "From ultrasoft pseudopotentials to
the projector augmented-wave method," (Physical Review B,
59: 1758-75, 1999), by Georg Kresse of the University of Vienna
(and coauthor Daniel Joubert, University of the Witwatersrand,
South Africa), now cited more than 4,000 times.
Austria: Output and
Impact by Field (Ranked by
percent share of Clarivate-indexed