'Triad' or 'tetrad'? on global changes in a dynamic world

W. Glänzel, K. Debackere, M. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The US-EU race for world leadership in science and technology has become the favourite subject of recent studies. Studies issued by the European Commission reported the increase of the European share in the world’s scientific production and announced world leadership of the EU in scientific output at the end of the last century. In order to be able to monitor those types of global changes, the present study is based on the 15-year period 1991–2005. A set of bibliometric and technometric indicators is used to analyse activity and impact patterns in science and technology output. This set comprises publication output indicators such as (1) the share in the world total, (2) subject-based publication profiles, (3) citation-based indicators like journal-and subject-normalised mean citation rates, (4) international co-publications and their impact as well as (5) patent indicators and publication-patent citation links (both directions). The evolution of national bibliometric profiles, ‘scientific weight’ and science-technology linkage patterns are discussed as well.
The authors show, using the mirror of science and technology indicators, that the triad model does no longer hold in the 21st century. China is challenging the leading sciento-economic powers and the time is approaching when this country will represent the world’s second largest potential in science and technology. China and other emerging scientific nations like South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil and Turkey are already changing the balance of power as measured by scientific production, as they are at least in part responsible for the relative decline of the former triad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71–88
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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