More than 80 per cent of the physical, medical and life sciences research assessed at UK universities is world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the results of the research excellence framework.
This compares with 71 per cent of arts and humanities research and 69 per cent of work in the social sciences, says the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Although physical sciences (main panel B) had the lowest proportion of world-leading 4* research among all the panels, at only 26 per cent, it also had the highest proportion of research deemed to be internationally excellent, or of 3* quality, at 57 per cent.
This brings the total proportion of work submitted to main panel B that was of 3* and 4* quality to 83 per cent, and puts these subjects ahead of the medical and life sciences (main panel A) that saw 81 per cent of work scoring 3* and 4*.
Meanwhile, researchers in the arts and humanities, who submit their work to main panel D, had the second highest proportion of research awarded 4* (30 per cent) but had the lowest proportion of research awarded 3* (41 per cent).