Statistics released by the National Science Council (NSC) last week showed that Taiwan was ranked No. 18 globally in terms of the number of published journal articles listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI), a ranking the country has managed to maintain since 2003.
The total number of listed articles increased slightly from 12,393 in 2004 to 15,661 in 2005.
Taiwan, however, is currently trailing behind other Asian countries in this respect, including Japan, China, India and South Korea.
The Science Citation Index was originally developed by the Institute for Scientific Information in the US, which is currently run by Thomas Scientific.
The index, which is also available online, identifies which articles are cited most frequently. It is also used to gauge how advanced a country is in regards to research and development in science and technology.
The council's annual statistics also indicated that the number of Taiwanese engineering-related journal articles listed in the Engineering Index (EI) had jumped from 10,980 in 2004 to 11,661 in 2005.
Meanwhile, the number of Taiwanese copyright applications approved in the US reached 5,118 in 2005, down from 5,928.
Taiwan has made no progress in terms of global ranking in either category.
It is ranked No. 11 in the Engineering Index and No.4 in successful copyright applications. Some are concerned that Taiwan's performance should be much better.
In a study released by Thomas Scientific in 2004, Taiwan was on average ranked No. 21 in terms of journal articles listed in SCI between 1993 and 2003.
However, it was ranked No. 96 in terms of the average number of times each article was quoted by other researchers around the world.
When examining the relative impact of each SCI-listed paper, Taiwan was ranked below the global average in every scientific field, including computer sciences, neurosciences, botany, zoology, biology, and agricultural sciences.
The only significant progress was seen in the field of mathematics, in which Taiwan advanced from 32 points below the global average to four points below.
In response to the council's statistics, some attributed Taiwan's apparently lackluster performance to the fact that the council had analyzed the quantity rather than the quality of research.
Others, however, said that the low rankings were the result of education reforms that they felt had lowered the quality of higher education in Taiwan and affected research.
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