Physics may be not the most important field of research in the United Kingdom [UK] but its impact is significant. This is the conclusion of a report entitled “The UK’s performance in physics research”.
In April 2014, the UK Institute of Physics [IOP] together with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EPSRC], and the Science and Technology Facilities Council [STFC] published a report on performance in physics research in the UK based on bibliometrics and case studies. Science Metrix, an independent research evaluation company specialising in the assessment of science and technology, led the study.
Over the period 2002 to 2012, the number of papers published in physics in the UK grew more slowly as compared to other fields such as social sciences and humanities. Moreover, the world share of UK publications in physics decreased (which was also the case in e.g. Germany, the US and France), while the share grew in emerging countries such as the Republic of Korea and China. Nonetheless, the UK had the highest scientific impact in physics publishing, compared to the 10 largest countries publishing in physics.
Physics research in the UK contributes to the development of the country in many ways. New technologies have been developed for example for health, and in security purposes and have found applications in computing and energy industries. Collaboration with industry has led to the creation of start-ups and new technologies in established companies. The report points out that “programmes that encourage personnel exchanges or industry secondments are one of the most useful conduits for knowledge flow”. Physics research is also a factor in the education of highly-skilled graduates.
This report shows global trends in scientific publication and their impact not only for the UK but also for the leading and emerging countries.
The full report can be read on the IOP website.