Quantitative indicators of scientific and technological activity are often of questionable validity and reliability. This is particularly true in lesser developed countries, where the lack of data gathering skills may frequently result in the development of misleading indicators. A number of manpower, education, expenditure, and publication indicators are examined for thirteen Middle Eastern countries. Reliability and validity problems are discussed for each indicator. The indicators are found to correlate with each other in reasonable ways, suggesting that despite their possible flaws, they nonetheless appear to measure scientific activity with some consistency.
Scientific, technological, and economic data are investigated for 128 countries. A stepwise regression analysis is carried out on the data, using domestic patent counts as the dependent variable. The form of the regression equations is the Cobb-Douglas production function. The analysis shows that domestic patents (as indicator of national technological capacity, and treated here as the dependent variable) are closely related to GNP (a measure of national economic size), counts of scientific publications (an indicator of scientific capacity), and counts of national patents obtained in the U.S. (a measure of world class technological capacity). Together, these three independent variables account for more than 92 percent of the variance in the dependent variable.
A detailed examination is made of the 1973 US and Soviet serials holdings of the British Library Lending Division (BLLD), the most comprehensive collection of active scientific and technological serials in the world. In total, 6075 US and 2399 Soviet serials were identified. These serials were then assigned on the basis of their titles to over 200 scientific and technological specialty areas. These assignments clearly show that the US is substantially more active than the USSR in the life sciences and social sciences, while the USSR is relatively more active in the physical and engineering sciences. When comparing the absolute size of the US and Soviet serial counts, it is seen that the US outpublishes the USSR in all major fields (i.e., clinical medicine, biomedical research, biology, chemistry, physics, earth/space science, engineering/technology, mathematics/statistics, psychology, and the social sciences).
During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), scientific work came to a halt in China. Universities closed, primary and secondary school education shut down, and intellectuals (including scientists and engineers) were sent to the countryside or to factories to work. The effects of the Cultural Revolution are reflected in China's output of scientific literature. In 1973, for example, only one Chinese paper appeared in any of the world's 2300 most central journals covered by theScience Citation Index. After restrictive policies were loosened, however, scientific papers grew exponentially. By 1982, only six years after the Cultural Revolution ended, Chinese scientists produced 932 papers. This exponential growth of papers leveled off at this point and the number of papers appearing in the core 2300 journal stood at approximately 1000 in 1983 and 1984.