Turkey’s place in the global league of science

Turkey’s place in the global league of science

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has shared a number of fundamental data with the public, shedding light on the situation of higher education in Turkey

Speaking at the opening of the higher education academic year on Oct. 3, Erdoğan said the number of universities was 76 in 2002, whereas there are currently 128 state universities and 72 foundation universities. Together with the five foundation higher education institutions, 7,611,000 students receive education in these schools, he said.

The president’s statement reveals that he has observed a rise in the number of students enrolled in schools, especially in universities, as a point of superiority for Turkey.

In fact, he compared it with Germany, where he was last week, and said although Germany’s population is a million more than Turkey, the number of university students in Germany were around three million.

Yet, Erdoğan has confessed there is a problem in the “quantity/quality issue.”

“I believe we have to focus on the quality from now,” he said.

With these words, the president admitted that despite important results that have been registered in the last 17 years in terms of quantity, quality lagged behind quantity and that there is a need to give priority to quality.

Erdoğan recalled during his talk that only two universities have made it to the top 500 universities in the world and this is the clearest proof of the quantity/quality issue.

Even though the number of students enrolled in universities is less in Germany compared to Turkey, 44 German universities are among the world’s top 500 and 23 of those are among the top 200.

In addition to these types of comparisons, we can have a closer look at the question of “where is Turkey in the global league of science.”

Looking at scientific publications in order to measure that, we can resort to databases recognized by the international academic world. These institutions follow all academic publications as well as the citations they receive and evaluate them based on certain measures. Scimago Journal Rank (SJR) provides us a reading of country standings in a comparative way.

Looking at the SJR index, we see Turkey ranks 20 in the global listing for the 22 year period from 1996-2017.

Right before Turkey, Switzerland ranks 16, Taiwan 17, Sweden 18 and Poland 19.

Among the group of countries that comes after Turkey, you can see Belgium ranks 21, Iran ranks 22, Denmark ranks 23, Austria ranks 24 and Israel ranks 25.

In this time period, a total of 531,899 scholarly journals were published in Turkey. Of those, 496,582 were worthy of citation. All of these publications have received 5,456,000 citations. That means 9.40 per each publication.

To provide you a comparison, the ratio for the United States in the same period is 24.25 citation per publication. In the top five, the United States is followed by China, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

Turkey kept its ranking at 20 in the total period from 1996-2017, but fell to 19 as of last year.

When we look in terms of years, we see that Turkey ranked 25 in 2000, yet rose to 20 in 2005, reached 18 in 2010 and stayed around 20 in the following years.

Meanwhile, as Turkey has stabilized its ranking, one of our neighbors has surprised us and has gotten ahead of us. Any guess?