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UK Continues To Punch Above Its Weight In The Research Arena

LONDON, December 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Most productive relative to R&D spend compared to the world's major research nations

The UK remains a global research heavyweight according to a new report launched today by the UK's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The 'International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base 2013 ' report has been produced by Elsevier's SciVal Analytics team and is based on Scopus data and numerous other sources.

The report shows that while the UK represents just 0.9% of the global population, it accounts for 3.2% of R&D expenditure, 4.1% of researchers, 6.4% of research articles, 9.5% of research article downloads and 15.9% of the world's most highly-cited articles.  In terms of research quality, as measured by field-weighted citation impact, the UK has overtaken the US and now ranks first amongst the comparator countries used in the report. These include the world's most research-intensive nations - the US, China, Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada and France. UK research also clearly drives global innovation: its research is the second most frequently cited in global patents after Germany. The UK is the most productive research nation in terms of articles and citations per unit R&D expenditure ranking first amongst comparator countries on these two indicators.

The report shows that by volume of articles published the UK is a well-rounded research nation. Compared to ten years ago, and relative to the world average, the UK has increased its emphasis on social science and business but has produced proportionally fewer articles in biological, environmental and physical sciences, mathematics and engineering. Several of the comparator countries, including China, Japan and Russia, focus more strongly on those areas than the UK.

The UK occupies a central position in global networks of collaboration. Amongst its comparator countries, it has the second-highest rate of international co-authorship, after France, and this rate continues to rise. International co-authorship is associated with high publication impact.

Researchers are the engine that drives the progress of research, and a country's research base is critically dependent on the individual contributions of the researchers affiliated with its research institutions. Although the UK researcher count is broadly stable (increasing at just 0.9% per year), this figure masks greater underlying increases in researcher numbers in the Higher Education sector, and the high degree of international mobility amongst active UK researchers which means that the UK researcher population is constantly refreshing.

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