This report compares the strength of research and development in the UK with international competitors.

The publication compares the UK to seven research-intensive countries, and four other fast-growing nations. Namely, the UK is compared to these competitors in six different ways:

  • Research funding and expenditure (research inputs)
  • Numbers and mobility of researchers (human capital)
  • Numbers of journal articles published and citations received (research outputs)
  • Collaboration (research collaboration)
  • Ratio of research outputs to expenditure (productivity)
  • Knowledge exchange.

This report tracks investment in, and the performance of, the national research system in an international setting, combining a variety of indicators to present a view of the UK’s comparative performance in research, as well as data about the trends that may affect its future position.

The findings of the report show that the UK punches well above its weight as a research nation, but the UK must continue to invest in its research base in order to retain its position as a world-leader.


  • In 2014, the UK represented:
    • 0.9% of global population
    • 2.7% of R&D expenditure
    • 4.1% of researchers
    • 9.9% of article downloads
    • 10.7% of citations
    • 15.2% of the world's most highly-cited articles
  • The UK only ranks 7th of 9 in terms of GDP spent on R&D
  • 72% of active UK-based researchers were internationally mobile between 1996-2015
  • The quantity and excellence of the UK’s research outputs keep it at the top of many of the rankings, but the growth in the world’s most highly-cited articles is much slower than most other competitors
  • Over half of all UK articles in 2014 result from international collaboration
  • The UK ranks 1st in terms of researcher productivity, in both articles published and citations recieved, per million US$ spent on R&D

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