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Benchmarking Scottish research in life and chemical sciences sectors



The aim of the report was to provide an evaluation of Scotland’s competitive standings in the life and chemical sciences sectors, through a comparison of research and intellectual property indicators of strengths with competing countries or regions. It aimed to provide benchmarks for subject categories under the life sciences and chemical sciences sectors, in order to support Scottish Enterprise in determining the best course of action to develop these sectors in Scotland.


The methodology consisted of a review of research publications, patents and their citations, which were published or filed between 2010 and 2015.


The report found that between 2010-15, globally, over 5.5 million publications in life sciences were produced, of which Scotland produced 60,537 (14%). While Scotland’s output was relatively small, it was found that the country had, in general, a significant impact in terms of Citation Impact (CI) (total citations per publication) at 16.14, compared to 14.55 for the UK overall and second only to Switzerland. Scotland’s contribution to the UK patent portfolio was identified at almost 5% based on patent volume, and Scottish patents were found to receive relatively more citations than countries including Switzerland the Republic of Ireland, indicating a strong portfolio of inventions. The report found that Scotland is a significant contributor to UK research output in terms of publication volume across a number of agricultural fields, including fisheries and marine and freshwater biology. With regards to CI, it was found that Scottish publications were cited more than twice the EU-28 average across the fields of general and internal medicine; mathematical psychology; and public, environmental and occupational health. In terms of chemical sciences, the report found that globally, 4.3 million publications were produced between 2010-15, of which Scotland produced 35,846 (14%). Scotland was found to be ranked fourth in terms of CI, again despite a low research output volume. The Scottish CI was found to be 16.55, compared to 15.44 for the UK and 15.61 for the USA. Scotland’s contribution to the UK patent portfolio was also calculated at 5% in this sector, and the relatively high citation counts of Scotland’s patents were found to indicate a strong portfolio for the country’s size. It was found that Scotland is a significant contributor to both UK and EU-28 research output in terms of publication volume across a number of fields including petroleum engineering.


The report does not make any recommendations.

Record metadata
ConsultantScottish Enterprise; Clarivate Analytics
Published year2017
Document TypeResearch
Theme/SectorSupporting key sectors, Business infrastructure, Chemical sciences, Life Sciences, Sectors