THE BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are closing the gap with the developed world in scientific research, according to a recent report from Thomson Reuters. In 1973 around two-thirds of the 400,000 research publications indexed in the firm’s “Web of Knowledge” databases came from the G7 rich-world countries (America, Britain, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy). By 2011 that share had fallen to half of the 1.8m total. The growth from China in particular has been spectacular, from 10,000 papers two decades ago to over 150,000 in 2011. And scientific research from the BRICs is not just more plentiful—it is more influential too. The “citation impact”, measured by the frequency of citations relative to the world average, has increased steadily. Brazil’s scientific papers are focused on agriculture, plant and animal sciences. China and Russia favour physical science.