The report, published on 6 December, compares the performance of the UK’s research base with that of similar countries.
UK researchers were responsible for 6.4 per cent of all papers published worldwide in 2012, the third-highest proportion among the comparator countries (beaten only by the US and China).
Yet when the nations are ranked by field-weighted citation impact, the UK tops the list.
Field-weighted citation impact can be used as an indicator of research quality. The UK’s has been rising at a rate of 1.28 per cent a year since 2008 and in 2012 had reached just over 1.6. The world average is 1.
The figure varies across the UK’s constituent countries. Scottish researchers rank highest, at about 1.75, with researchers from Northern Ireland lowest at just under 1.5. Citation impact has improved since 2008 across all four countries. Wales’ impact factor rose by about 1.5 points between 2008 and 2012, reaching the same level as the UK overall.
Although the UK is top for field-weighted impact factor among the comparator countries, it ranks sixth in the EU group, behind small research nations including Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Austria.
Among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development members, the UK comes eighth.
Source: Elsevier, International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base - 2013; data from Scopus