UK is citation sensation in physics

The quality of US physics has been surpassed by that of both Canada and the UK over the past decade, new analysis commissioned by the Institute of Physics suggests.

February 22, 2012

The report, Bibliometric Evaluation and International Benchmarking of the UK’s Physics Research, compiled by Thomson Reuters company Evidence, indicates that while the average number of citations garnered by US-authored papers has held steady since 2001, that of Canada and the UK has risen sharply.

In 2010 both countries recorded a citation average of more than 170 per cent of the world average, compared to less than 130 per cent in 2001. The US figure is 160 per cent.

Brazil also saw a sharp rise in citation impact – from 71 to 110 per cent of the world average.

Canada ranks top for citation impact among the 12 countries surveyed for the report. It was also among only four nations that saw their global share of physics papers increase between 2001 and 2010. The others were India, South Korea and China. The latter’s share rose spectacularly, from 8.2 to 18.6 per cent.

China’s citation impact remained at just 66 per cent of the world average, but Sir Peter Knight, president of the Institute of Physics, told Times Higher Education that the figure masked an increasing number of highly cited Chinese researchers.

He predicted the country would “change the landscape” in the long term, but added that he was not worried because “I want physics to prosper, and physics is international”.

The US retains the highest global share of physics papers, but that share declined from 25 to 22 per cent over the decade.

The UK’s share declined from 7.1 to 6.4 per cent, making it the seventh-largest global contributor.

The UK’s share of papers also declined in chemistry, engineering and mathematics, but rose sharply in space science. Citation impact rose in all of those subjects except maths, whose impact fell from 143 per cent of the world average to 133.

Sir Peter said citation scores were a reliable indicator of quality when comparisons were made within the same field. He said the UK’s increased citation impact was “cause for celebration”, particularly given a sharp decline in the number of papers it produces that are never cited.

He said the improvements were partly a result of an “RAE [Research Assessment Exercise] effect”, which forced researchers to focus on quality, and partly the fruits of a decade of “sustained investment” by the government in the science base.

But he warned politicians not be complacent that such excellence could be maintained without continued sustained funding.

“If you turn the tap off no water comes out,” he said.

http://www.iop.org/publications/iop/2012/page_53959.html

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman