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Cymru “punches above its weight” in global research, says new report

Cymru's research institutions achieve results beyond their scale, according to a report published today (Monday, August 2).

Today sees the publication of ‘A Performance-based Assessment of the Welsh Research Base’, which looks at the research produced by Welsh universities, partnerships and other institutions between 2010 and 2018.

The review was commissioned by Professor Peter Halligan, the Chief Scientific Adviser for Cymru, and carried out by Elsevier, an international information analytics company.

The report shows that over the last 20 years, Wales has boosted the volume, quality, and international reach of its research base to become one of the most efficient UK nations at converting relatively small levels of funding into highly-regarded and innovative research.

Despite Cymru comprising 0.1% of the world’s researchers and securing only 0.05% of global R&D funding, it succeeds in producing 0.3% of the world’s research articles; 0.5% of citations and 0.5% of the most highly-cited articles.

Some of the other key findings in the report include:

  • Cymru’s share of the top 5% of most highly-cited publications is twice the global average;

  • Cymru’s citation impact is 80% above the global average and 13% above UK average;

  • Despite a comparatively small research base, Cymru is highly efficient in terms of output vs spending;

  • Collaboration between corporations and academic institutions in Cymru grew by a fifth between 2010 and 2018;

  • Cymru has 3.4% of all of the UK’s researchers, but they produce 4% of its output.

  • More than half of Cymru‘s research output was produced in international collaboration.

Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “This is yet another example of how a sector in Wales punches above its weight category, with our research institutions, universities and partnerships producing internationally significant research.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen just how valuable good scientific research can be – and it’s especially encouraging to note that natural science and medical and health science are our most prolific subject areas, accounting for 54% and 39% of all of Wales’ research output.

“While the efficient approach our research sector has taken and the successes they’ve achieved deserve praise, the sector continues to face challenges following our leaving the EU, with a tightening and more competitive UK funding scene.”

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