The Nature Index survey results have identified some of the world’s largest cities as top science cities. Beijing, China’s capital city, leads the way with its research institutions contributing to a combined share of 3,735 publications in 82 scientific journals. Other major urban centers such as New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Seoul and London also feature in the top 20.

While there are clear scientific and economic benefits to concentrating research institutions in cities, there is growing concern about how science can benefit populations living far from urban areas. This has contributed to tensions between urban and rural communities in some countries and underpinned national political trends such as populism. However, research can bring important advances and benefits to rural communities.

For example, rooftop solar panels have been installed in Chinese villages to help alleviate poverty by providing access to clean energy. Research-supported interventions have also improved the health of rural immigrants and indigenous populations in the United States. These projects demonstrate the value of science in improving lives and reducing resentment between urban and rural communities.

This appendix acknowledges the financial support of Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission and Zhongguancun Science Park Administrative Commission in its production. As always, Nature retains sole responsibility for all editorial content.

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