Page last updated at 00:41 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 01:41 UK

UK research 'G8's most efficient'

By Judith Burns
Science and environment reporter, BBC News

Scientist in lab
The UK is strong in clinical, health, biological and environmental sciences

UK science continues to be the most productive and efficient in the G8, says a report from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The International Benchmarking Study of UK Research Performance 2009 put UK scientists second only to the US in their share of journal citations.

The survey, by the independent company Evidence UK, used data from 8,000 scientific journals in 85 languages.

It compared UK science against that of 25 other countries, including the G8.

This was the sixth annual benchmarking survey commissioned by the UK government.

It looked at 40 separate scientific indicators and revealed that the UK ranks first among G8 nations on the ratio of citations to public spending.

Real strength

The minister for science and innovation, Lord Drayson, told BBC News that the report reflected the UK's focus on quality rather than quantity.

"This is an opportunity for us to pat ourselves on the back as a nation. It is no coincidence that Cambridge University, for example, has had more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution on the planet.

"It reflects the real strength that we have here in the UK. We've got to make sure that we maintain it."

The study found that the UK produced 91,723 scientific papers - just under 8% of the world's total, and third only to the US and China.

In the last year UK scientists also had an almost 12% share of citations in science journals across the world, and increased their share of the most cited papers by 1% to 14.4%.

The survey also revealed a rise in the number of papers co-authored with researchers in other countries, which tend to be cited more frequently than papers authored solely by UK academics.

It also highlights a four-fold increase in the number of papers produced by China over the past decade.

China now produces more scientific papers than the UK but they are cited less frequently by other scientists.

The UK is particularly strong in clinical, health, biological and environmental sciences.

Overall, UK scientists produce a quarter of the papers by EU researchers.

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