In the last decade, research literature reached an enormous volume with an unprecedented current annual increase of 1.5 million new publications.
As research gets ever more global and new countries and institutions, either from academia or corporate environments, start to contribute with their share, it is important to monitor this complex scenario and understand its dynamics and equilibria.
We present a study on a conference proceedings dataset extracted from Springer Nature Scigraph that illustrates insightful geographical trends and highlights the unbalanced growth of competitive research institutions worldwide in the 1996--2016 period.
The main contribution of this work is fourfold.
In first instance, we found that the distributions of institutions and publications among countries follow a power law, consistently with previous literature, i.e., very few countries keep producing most of the papers accepted by high-tier conferences. Secondly, we show how the annual and overall turnover rate of country rankings is extremely low and steadily declines over time, suggesting an alarmingly static landscape in which new entries struggle to emerge.
In third instance, we performed an analysis of the venue locations and their effect on the distribution of countries involved in the accepted publications, underlining the central role of Europe and China as knowledge hubs.
Finally, we evidenced the presence of an increasing gap between the number of institutions initiating and overseeing research endeavours (i.e. first and last authors' affiliations) and the total number of institutions participating in research.
As a consequence of our analysis, the paper also discusses our experience in working with authors' affiliations: an utterly simple matter at first glance, that is instead revealed to be a complex research and technical challenge yet far from being settled.
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