Science: Singapore vs The World

We’ve always talked about how much we invest in science, R&D and other scientific pursuits. Somehow, the only impact this information has on the local public is that money is “wasted” in science. However, we have to understand our Science investment in terms of a global phenomenon and activity. I came across some maps which helps put it into perspective, in terms of how our spending stacks up againsts the others. You can do the correlation on your own.

An infographic from FastCompany indicates the highest activity “scientific productivity” in 2003. The number of scientific papers published are the variable and the greater the size of the circle, the greater the number of papers published. The locations of top scientific activity are Boston, London, and New York. The radius of our circle is bigger than the island ourselves.

Another project that can help us visualise the impact of our nation’s science is from WorldMapper. Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest. This method helps us to see the familiar island shape much larger and gives us the understanding of how “fat” we are in relation to the world.

Worldmapper Map No. 165: Research and Development Expenditure

“Research and development is what scientific and technological and medical companies engage in to find new designs. This can be an expensive pursuit, given the costs of materials, machines and skilled specialists. Yet the development of a new design can bring financial rewards, as well as the benefits of developing a new medicine, gadget or piece of software.”


Worldmapper Map No. 166: Research and Development Employees
“In most territories in the world there are at least some people working in research and development. But in 80 of the 200 territories in the world, there are fewer than one thousand people working in this sector.”

Worldmapper Map No. 205: Science Research
“Scientific papers cover physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, clinical medicine, biomedical research, engineering, technology, and earth and space sciences. There is more scientific research, or publication of results, in richer territories. This locational bias is such that roughly three times more scientific papers per person living there are published in Western Europe, North America, and Japan, than in any other region.”

Worldmapper Map No. 206: Science Growth
“This map shows the growth in scientific research of territories between 1990 and 2001. If there was no increase in scientific publications that territory has no area on the map. In 1990, 80 scientific papers were published per million people living in the world, this increased to 106 per million by 2001. This increase was experienced primarily in territories with strong existing scientific research.”

“Singapore is engaging robustly in the materials science research, as we position ourselves for the global, knowledge-driven economy, and for our next phase of development as a society.” Tharman Shanmugaratnam, 2003

These maps and stats really give us a great understanding on the scope and size of the science scene in Singapore. But how do we understand the stats locally. For that, we turned to the Singapore Stats, Monocle and annual reports of the MTI, EDB, A*STAR. I’ll cover that in another post.

2 responses to “Science: Singapore vs The World

  1. Unfortunately it often does not make sense to compare statistics for a city like Singapore to other countries: Singapore ought to be compared only to "other cities/agglomerations of more than 4M inhabitants" Another way would be to do the map based on number of papers above population density, but then some large country would be even largerWhat do you think?

  2. HI Karlieeuh,So if i understand correctly, the comparisons should be made to cities of science and research? Also, you suggest a method to baseline the data with population density?I guess you can play with the numbers anyway you want to get a desired message across. Isn’t that what some aspects of statistical analysis is used for?I find these charts help to identify hotspots of science and creates a curiosity as to why the environment is conducive for scientific growth. Is it purely money? Environment? Support or a Person??Are you in the science scene too? /e

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