Go back

UK beats US on R&D productivity and citation impact, says Elsevier

The UK produced proportionally more articles and citations than countries including the United States, China, France and Germany in 2012. The findings come from an analysis looking at outputs per unit of GERD, a measure based on a country’s gross spending on R&D as a share of GDP.

The review, conducted by publisher Elsevier for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, found that the UK produced 3.9 articles and 43.1 citations per unit of GERD.

The UK also ranked highly for field-weighted citation impact, which takes into account differences between disciplines in citation rates for journal articles. The UK’s score was 1.61 in 2012, having increased by 1.3 per cent each year from 2008 to 2012. This was the best score for a research-intensive country and put the UK eighth among OECD nations.

Within the UK, Scotland’s score for field-weighted citation impact was the highest, followed by England’s. Wales and Northern Ireland were both below the UK average.

In 2012, the UK’s share of global citations was 11.6 per cent, following increases of 1.5 per cent a year between 2008 and 2012. This put the UK third among the research-intensive countries, behind the US and China. The UK’s share of highly cited articles in 2012 was 15.9 per cent, placing it second only to the US.

With a national R&D expenditure of £27.4 billion in 2011, the UK ranked only sixth among the research-intensive countries. Its R&D spending decreased by 0.8 per cent a year between 2007 and 2011.

The UK boasted 262,303 researchers in 2011, 3.9 per cent of the global total. This was the fifth-highest number for a research-intensive country. Of the UK’s active researchers, 71.6 per cent were internationally mobile between 1996 and 2012, putting the UK in second place.

On average, UK researchers each published 0.5 articles and garnered 5.87 citations in 2012.

In the same year, 47.6 per cent of all UK articles resulted from international collaboration, thanks to increases of 2.9 per cent a year between 2008 and 2012. This put the UK in second place among the research-intensive countries. Western European partners were of particular importance to the UK, and international co-authorship on a paper was found to be associated with high field-weighted citation impact.

In 2011, the UK applied for 50,749 patents, the sixth-highest number among the research-intensive countries. Measured per unit of GERD, 0.007 start-ups and spinouts were set up in the UK in 2011, putting it second.