International comparative performance of the UK research base – 2013

UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills

The UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) commissioned Elsevier to assess the performance of the UK's research base compared with seven other research-intensive countries (Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US), three other fast growing nations (Brazil, Russia and India) and other international benchmarks. It tracks investment in, and performance of, the national research system in an international setting, combining a variety of indicators to present a multifaceted view of the UK’s comparative performance in research as well as the trends that may affect its future position.

The report, 'International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base – 2013,' is the second consecutive report in this series to be delivered by Elsevier, the first having been published in October 2011.

Generated by Elsevier’s Analytical Services team, the report's main themes were explored through literature reviews, more than 60 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and data analy­ses from a range of sources including Scopus data, SciVal competency maps, R&D expenditure and human capital data from the OECD and patent information from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The core findings

The findings of the report can be highlighted under 5 key themes

  1. The UK punches above its weight as a research nation – While the UK represents just 0.9% of global population, it accounts for 6.4% of global journal articles, 11.6% of citations and 15.9% of the world’s most highly-cited articles.
  2. The UK is a focal point for global research collaboration and researcher mobility.
  3. The UK research base is well-rounded and impactful across most major research fields.
  4. The UK exhibits strong cross-sector knowledge exchange – UK academic users increasingly download UK corporate authored articles and vice versa.  At the same time a high and rising proportion of UK journal articles are cited in patents globally.
  5. The UK research base shows areas of potential vulnerability – The UK’s position as a world leading research nation is likely to be eroded by pressure from emerging nations, most notably China.
Figure 1: Absolute share of key input and output indicators.
Figure 1: Absolute share of key input and output indicators. All data are expressed as world share.
Figure 2: Global co-authorship map using Scopus data, 2008-2012.
Figure 2: Global co-authorship map using Scopus data, 2008-2012. Country size - Overall article output for each country. Country colour - Field-weighted citation impact of the overall article output for each country. Line colour - Field-weighted citation impact of the co-authored articles between each country pair.