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09 2010

Minimum Requirement for Nobel Laureates

Let me first congratulate Dr. Negishi and Dr. Suzuki who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2010.

nobel medal

In celebration of this happy occasion, I’d like to write about the first step, in which a researches come to be evaluated globally.

The table below shows top four countries that throw up many Nobelists (and Japan), the number of winners in the field of natural sciences since 1980, and its rate per 1 million people. Though the data are just a rough indication (I made it in half an hour, and some data aren’t based on a reliable source), it’s obvious that the U.S. is a leading country of the sciences.

Nobel Laureates2

My field is not a pure natural science, but the situation is the same. More than half renowned international scholars and researchers are American, and the rest of those are German, British or French.

Compared to Japan, the U. S. is blessed with a nice research environment: (i) a vast number research institutes including colleges and universities, foundations and government circles, (ii) abundant research expenditure.

Another advantage is that the country holds major opportunities for presenting studies.

Primarily, a researcher is assessed by research papers appeared in academic journals. In my field, most authoritative journals are published in the U.S (of course, papers are judged by multinational referees).

Research themes are subdivided, and in general, each global research group is small enough to know each other. Thus, a conference is an important opportunity to recognize people and their research content. There are three international conferences I’d like to participate, and two of them are took place in the U.S. every year. The other is mainly held in North America.

Here's the part I complain to my predecessor about.
I see many Japanese at international conferences, but from my area of study, there is no one but me, this minor researcher. I asked a professor I know the other day if he'd like to participate in an international conference, but he was unwilling to.

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