, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 1115–1155 | Cite as

Research landscape of the BRICS countries: current trends in research output, thematic structures of publications, and the relative influence of partners

  • Sergey Shashnov
  • Maxim KotsemirEmail author


This article provides the comprehensive analysis of research landscape in BRICS countries in different aspects: level of their publication activity and contribution to the global process of knowledge generation; thematic structure of publications of BRICS countries, their scientific specialization; quality of articles measured by citation indicators; similarity of thematic structures of publications; international research collaboration profiles; and finally closeness and relative influence of each country in intra-BRICS collaborating pairs. Special sections of the article are devoted to review of the literature, which discusses the main articles on various aspects of BRICS countries’ publication activity and their international research collaboration and to description the database and set of various bibliometric indicators, used in our analysis. We use Scopus database and the timespan of our research covers 2001–2015 years that allows us to identify key points in development of research landscapes of BRICS countries. The empirical part of the article is structured as follows. First, we provide the overview of publication activity and thematic structure of BRICS countries. Second, we measure the closeness of thematic structure of publications versus each other and versus general research agenda in the world using different indices of structural difference. Third part is the analysis of research collaboration with clear visualization of its thematic structure, identification of potential areas of collaboration and detection the influential countries in intra-BRICS collaborating pairs. We use wide range of bibliometric indicators: citation indicators; indices of structural difference; indicators of scientific collaboration. We apply different approaches to visualise data in form of different illustrative graphs including colored tables to do our research easy-to-read-and understand. The results of the study may be of interest to decision makers in determining the conscientious research story of the BRICS countries and priorities setting for multilateral scientific and technological cooperation, as well as for researchers dealing with relevant problems.


BRICS Bibliometric analysis Scientific collaboration Disciplinary structure Structural difference Collaboration closeness Salton index Cosine similarity index Gatev index Relative comparative advantages index Index of relative influence of scientific partners 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation in 2017–2108 (Project ID: RFMEFI57217X0005).


  1. Abramo, G., D’Angelo, C. A., & Di Costa, F. (2014). A new bibliometric approach to assess the scientific specialization of regions. Research Evaluation, 23(2), 183–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acosta, M., Coronado, D., Ferrándiz, E., & León, M. D. (2014). Regional scientific production and specialization in Europe: the role of HERD. European Planning Studies, 22(5), 949–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams, J., Pendlebury, D., & Stembridge, B. (2013). Building bricks: Exploring the global research and innovation impact of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea. Toronto: Thomson Reuters.Google Scholar
  4. Aksnes, D. W., van Leeuwen, T. N., & Sivertsen, G. (2014). The effect of booming countries on changes in the relative specialization index (RSI) on country level. Scientometrics, 101(2), 1391–1401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Archambault, É., Beauchesne, O. H., Côté, G., & Roberge, G. (2011). Scale-adjusted metrics of scientific collaboration. In Proceedings of the 13th conference of the international society for scientometrics and informetrics (ISSI 2011), Durban (pp. 78–88).Google Scholar
  6. Archambault, É., Campbell, D., Gingras, Y., & Larivière, V. (2009). Comparing bibliometric statistics obtained from the Web of Science and Scopus. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 60(7), 1320–1326.Google Scholar
  7. Arunachalam, S., Srinivasan, R., & Raman, V. (1994). International collaboration in science: Participation by the Asian giants. Scientometrics, 30(1), 7–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bagchi, N. (2011). A comparative analysis of the factors for fostering innovation in BRICS countries from 1995 to 2009. ASCI Journal of Management, 41(1), 1–20.Google Scholar
  9. Balassa, B. (1965). Trade liberalization and ‘revealed’ comparative advantage. The Manchester School of Economics and Social Studies, 32(2), 99–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barre, R. (1987). A strategic assessment of the scientific performance of five countries. Science and Technology Studies, 5(1), 32–38.Google Scholar
  11. Bartošová, J., & Bína, V. (2010). Influence of the relative poverty on the structure of household expenditures in the Czech Republic. In ICABR 2008VI. International conference on applied business research Ras Al Khaimah 29.11. 201003.12 (pp. 19–28).Google Scholar
  12. Bērziņš, J., Lešinskis, I., & Prauliņš, A. (2012). Analysis of Structure of Cargo Turnover at Latvia’s Ports. Journal of Maritime Transport and Engineering, 1(1), 10–19.Google Scholar
  13. Bianchini, S., & Llerena, P. (2016). Science policy as a prerequisite of industrial policy. Economia e Politica Industriale, 43(3), 273–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bouabid, H., Paul-Hus, A., & Larivière, V. (2016). Scientific collaboration and high-technology exchanges among BRICS and G-7 countries. Scientometrics, 106(3), 873–899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cassi, L., Morrison, A., & Rabellotti, R. (2015). Proximity and scientific collaboration: Evidence from the global wine industry. Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 106(2), 205–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chen, H. H., Gou, L., Zhang, X., & Giles, C. L. (2011). Collabseer: A search engine for collaboration discovery. In Proceedings of the 11th annual international ACM/IEEE joint conference on Digital libraries (pp. 231–240). ACM.Google Scholar
  17. Chessa, M., & Fragnelli, V. (2012). A note on “Measurement of disproportionality in proportional representation systems”. Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 55(3), 1655–1660.MathSciNetzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chinchilla-Rodríguez, Z., Vargas-Quesada, B., Hassan-Montero, Y., González-Molina, A., & Moya-Anegóna, F. (2010). New approach to the visualization of international scientific collaboration. Information Visualization, 9(4), 277–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chuang, Y. W., Lee, L. C., Hung, W. C., & Lin, P. H. (2010). Forging into the innovation lead—a comparative analysis of scientific capacity. International Journal of Innovation Management, 14(03), 511–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Colledge, L., & Verlinde, R. (2014). Scival metrics guidebook. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  21. Colliander, C., & Ahlgren, P. (2012). Experimental comparison of first and second-order similarities in a scientometric context. Scientometrics, 90(2), 675–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Confraria, H., & Vargas, F. (2017). Scientific systems in Latin America: Performance, networks, and collaborations with industry. The Journal of Technology Transfer. Scholar
  23. Daraio, C., & Bonaccorsi, A. (2017). Beyond university rankings? Generating new indicators on universities by linking data in open platforms. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(2), 508–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Debackere, K., & Luwel, M. (2004). Patent data for monitoring S&T portfolios. In Handbook of quantitative science and technology research (pp. 569–585). Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
  25. Debackere, K., Luwel, M., & Veugelers, R. (1999). Can technology lead to a competitive advantage? A case study of Flanders using European patent data. Scientometrics, 44(3), 379–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dniestrzański, P., & Łyko, J. (2015). The disproportion of allocation under the given boundary conditions. Economy and Business Journal, 9(1), 118–126.Google Scholar
  27. Falagas, M. E., Pitsouni, E. I., Malietzis, G. A., & Pappas, G. (2008). Comparison of PubMed, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and Google scholar: Strengths and weaknesses. The FASEB Journal, 22(2), 338–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Finardi, U. (2015). Scientific collaboration between BRICS countries. Scientometrics, 102(2), 1139–1166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Finardi, U., & Buratti, A. (2016). Scientific collaboration framework of BRICS countries: an analysis of international coauthorship. Scientometrics, 109(1), 433–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gatev, K. (1979). Statistical evaluation of the differences between structures. In. Theoretical and methodological problems of statistics (pp. 91–108), Moscow: Statistika.Google Scholar
  31. Gautam, P. (2017). An overview of the Web of Science record of scientific publications (2004–2013) from Nepal: focus on disciplinary diversity and international collaboration. Scientometrics, 113(3), 1245–1267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Glänzel, W. (2001). National characteristics in international scientific co-authorship relations. Scientometrics, 51(1), 69–115.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2001). Double effort = double impact? A critical view at international co-authorship in chemistry. Scientometrics, 50(2), 199–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2004). Analysing scientific networks through co-authorship. In Handbook of quantitative science and technology research, vol. 11 (pp. 257–279).Google Scholar
  35. Hamers, L., Hemeryck, Y., Herweyers, G., Janssen, M., Keters, H., Rousseau, R., et al. (1989). Similarity measures in scientometric research: the Jaccard index versus Salton’s cosine formula. Information Processing and Management, 25(3), 315–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Harzing, A. W., & Giroud, A. (2014). The competitive advantage of nations: An application to academia. Journal of Informetrics, 8(1), 29–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Havemann, F., Heinz, M., & Kretschmer, H. (2006). Collaboration and distances between German immunological institutes–a trend analysis. Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration, 1(1), 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. He, T. (2009). International scientific collaboration of China with the G7 countries. Scientometrics, 80(3), 571–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ionescu, C. (2015). Challenges on the integration of Romanian system research, development and innovation in innovation union. Procedia Economics and Finance, 32, 986–991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kahn, M. (2011). A bibliometric analysis of South Africa’s scientific outputs: some trends and implications. South African Journal of Science, 107(1–2), 1–6.Google Scholar
  41. Kahn, M. (2015). Prospects for cooperation in science, technology and innovation among the BRICS members. Vestnik Mezhdunarodnykh Organizatsii-International Organisations Research Journal, 10(2), 105–119.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  42. Karpov, A. (2008). Measurement of disproportionality in proportional representation systems. Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 48(9), 1421–1438.MathSciNetzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kim, Y. J., Lee, H. K., Youn, S., & Oh, D. H. (2012). Measuring the quality of research papers in G7 and BRICs countries using R 2 nIF indicator. In Proceedings of STI 2012: International conference on science and technology indicators (pp. 875–876).Google Scholar
  44. Kotsemir, M. (2012). Dynamics of Russian and world science through the prism of international publications. Foresight-Russia, 6(1), 38–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kotsemir, M., Kuznetsova, T., Nasybulina, E., & Pikalova, A. (2015). Identifying directions for the Russia’s Science and technology cooperation. Foresight and STI Governance, 9(4), 54–72.Google Scholar
  46. Kotsemir, M., & Shashnov, S. (2017). Measuring, analysis and visualization of research capacity of university at the level of departments and staff members. Scientometrics, 112(3), 1659–1689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kumar, N., & Asheulova, N. (2011). Comparative analysis of scientific output of BRIC countries. Annals of Library and Information Studies, 58(3), 228–236.Google Scholar
  48. Kutlača, D. (2016). Scientific research publication productivity in the areas of mathematics and physics in South Eastern Europe. Yugoslav Journal of Operations Research, 24(3), 415–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lee, L. C., Lee, Y. Y., & Liaw, Y. C. (2012). Bibliometric analysis for development of research strategies in agricultural technology: The case of Taiwan. Scientometrics, 93(3), 813–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Leydesdorff, L. (2008). On the normalization and visualization of author co-citation data: Salton’s Cosine versus the Jaccard index. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 59(1), 77–85.Google Scholar
  51. Leydesdorff, L. (2010). What can heterogeneity add to the scientometric map? Steps towards algorithmic historiography. arXiv preprint arXiv:1002.0532.
  52. Mangematinæ, V., & Errabi, K. (2012). The determinants of the science-based cluster growth: the case of nanotechnologies. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 30(1), 128–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mertins, K. (2002). Innovation in Indonesia. Assessment of the National Innovation System and Approaches for Improvement. Fraunhofer IRB Verlag.
  54. Meyer, N. P., & Nascimento, M. (2014). Some trends in higher education and research in BRICS countries. In A. Bawa, N. Bohler-Muller, S. Fikeni, S. Zondi, & S. Naidu (eds.), Fifth BRICS academic forum Pretoria: Department of International Relations and Cooperation (pp. 117–133).Google Scholar
  55. Morozova, S. N. (2013). Structural analysis of milk products quality. In Economic and social development: Book of proceedings, paper No. 69.Google Scholar
  56. Nagpaul, P. S. (2002). Visualizing cooperation networks of elite institutions in India. Scientometrics, 54(2), 213–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pinheiro, R., & Pillay, P. (2013). ‘What are the BRIC countries doing?—policies adopted by BRIC countries to increase research capacity, and data showing both research output and economic impact. In P. Maassen & T. Moja (Eds.), Knowledge production at South African universities: Policies and Practices. Cape Town: African Minds.Google Scholar
  58. Porter, A., & Rafols, I. (2009). Is science becoming more interdisciplinary? Measuring and mapping six research fields over time. Scientometrics, 81(3), 719–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Radosevic, S., & Yoruk, E. (2014). Are there global shifts in the world science base? Analysing the catching up and falling behind of world regions. Scientometrics, 101(3), 1897–1924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rafols, I., & Leydesdorff, L. (2009). Content-based and algorithmic classifications of journals: Perspectives on the dynamics of scientific communication and indexer effects. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 60(9), 1823–1835.Google Scholar
  61. Rensburg, I., Motala, S., & David, S. A. (2015). Opportunities and challenges for research collaboration among the BRICS nations. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 45(5), 814–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rensburg, I., Motala, S., & David, S. A. (2016). Research collaboration among emerging economies: policy and economic implications for BRICS nations. International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, 9(4), 344–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Reznik-Zellen, R. (2016). Benchmarking with SciVal in Scholarly communication and research services. Elsevier LibraryConnect. Accessed 2 August 2018.
  64. Salton, G., & McGill, M. J. (1987). Introduction to modern information retrieval. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  65. Sokolov, A., Shashnov, S., Kotsemir, M., & Grebenyuk, A. (2017). Identification of priorities for S&T cooperation of BRICS countries. International Organisations Research Journal, 12(4), 32–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sokolov, A., Shashnov, S., Kotsemir, M., & Grebenyuk, A. (2018). Common STI priorities for a group of countries: The BRICS case. In Paper presented at 6th international conference on future-oriented Technology analysis (FTA)future in the making, Brussels, 45 June 2018 (web access at:
  67. Tang, L., & Shapira, P. (2011). Regional development and interregional collaboration in the growth of nanotechnology research in China. Scientometrics, 86(2), 299–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Thiagarajan, R., Manjunath, G., & Stumptner, M. (2008). Finding experts by semantic matching of user profiles. Doctoral dissertation, CEUR-WS.Google Scholar
  69. Vieira, E., & Gomes, J. (2009). A comparison of Scopus and Web of Science for a typical university. Scientometrics, 81(2), 587–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Vivekanandhan, S., & Sivasamy, K. Pollution control research output in BRIC countries during 2006–2015 from SCOPUS database: A scientometric analysis. International Journal of Next Generation Library and Technologies, 3(2), paper No 5.Google Scholar
  71. Wagner, C. S., & Wong, S. K. (2012). Unseen science? Representation of BRICs in global science. Scientometrics, 90(3), 1001–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wang, L. (2016). The structure and comparative advantages of China’s scientific research: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Scientometrics, 106(1), 435–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Yamashita, Y., & Okubo, Y. (2006). Patterns of scientific collaboration between Japan and France: Inter-sectoral analysis using Probabilistic Partnership Index (PPI). Scientometrics, 68(2), 303–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yang, K., & Meho, L. I. (2006). Citation analysis: a comparison of Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 43(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Yang, L. Y., Yue, T., Ding, J. L., & Han, T. (2012). A comparison of disciplinary structure in science between the G7 and the BRIC countries by bibliometric methods. Scientometrics, 93(2), 497–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Yi, Y., Qi, W., & Wu, D. (2013). Are CIVETS the next BRICs? A comparative analysis from scientometrics perspective. Scientometrics, 94(2), 615–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zhou, P., & Glänzel, W. (2010). In-depth analysis on China’s international cooperation in science. Scientometrics, 82(3), 597–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zhou, Q., Rousseau, R., Yang, L., Yue, T., & Yang, G. (2012). A general framework for describing diversity within systems and similarity between systems with applications in informetrics. Scientometrics, 93(3), 787–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Zitt, M., Bassecoulard, E., & Okubo, Y. (2000). Shadows of the past in international cooperation: Collaboration profiles of the top five producers of science. Scientometrics, 47(3), 627–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Strategic Foresight, Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of KnowledgeNational Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussian Federation
  2. 2.Quantitative Modelling Unit, Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of KnowledgeNational Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussian Federation

Personalised recommendations