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A new report published today by the Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) has found that Scotland’s science and research base is punching above its weight, particularly in relation to the quality of its research and its international collaborations.

Confirming Scotland’s long-held reputation for research excellence, the report, which compares the performance of Scotland’s science and research base with the other UK nations and selected EU and non-EU countries, identifies the following key highlights:

  • Scotland produces more academic publications per researcher.
  • Scotland’s research is cited more often than research from competitor nations.
  • Investment in Business Enterprise Research and Development has doubled over the past decade.
  • Scotland has an increasing and consistently higher share of publications with international partners and with higher impact than the UK average.

However, while the report highlights that there is good reason to be positive, it does also offer a cautionary note. It notes that emerging research-intensive nations such as Singapore, India and Brazil are growing their capability and capacity.

Commenting on the publication, Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“This report confirms our long-held understanding that Scotland’s researchers are among the best in the world, working collaboratively with global partners to produce world-leading research to help address the issues not only of today but also those of tomorrow. We cannot be complacent in the face of increasing competition, but that competition does bring the possibility of developing new partnerships, building on our already strong reputation for global collaboration.

“The Scottish Funding Council looks forward to continuing its support of Scotland’s research and science base, providing funding to our universities, colleges and innovation centres, to ensure that Scotland maintains its strong position as a world-leading research nation.”


The report was commissioned by the SSAC and funded by the SSAC, the Scottish Funding Council, Universities Scotland, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. These partners were joined on the project steering group by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise.

Elsevier were commissioned to undertake a metrics-based assessment of Scotland’s science landscape 2007-2016. The full report is available on the SSAC website.

The report compares the Scottish research base to that of England, Wales, Northern Ireland (and the whole of the UK, including Scotland), selected EU countries of similar size and research base (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden) and selected non-EU countries of similar size and research base (Israel, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland).