National Performance Framework

Scottish Funding Council launches report on Scotland’s research contribution to National Outcomes

April 12, 2022 by No Comments | Category making the NPF real

We recently joined the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) for the launch of their report: ‘Scotland’s Research Contribution to National and International Challenges’.

We know that research discoveries can drive the improvements and innovations that will help us achieve the National Outcomes in the National Performance Framework (NPF). And we know that research trends can help us demonstrate the contribution and impact that research makes.

To explore this further, SFC commissioned analytics company, Elsevier, to assess Scotland’s research performance. Their report highlights the significant contribution that Scottish research has made over the last decade to addressing the societal, economic and environmental challenges highlighted by the NPF and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn, said during his opening remarks:

“It’s fantastic to see how every element of the ambitions we set out in the NPF are being backed up by world-class contributions from our research base.”

What’s in the report?

Graph from the report which highlights Annual output of publications related to Scotland’s National Performance Framework. Scotland’s annual output of research publications related to the National Performance Framework (NPF) grew across each of the 11 outcome areas between 2010 and 2020 (Figure 13). The highest growth rate for this period was for the Culture outcome (10.7%), followed by research related to the Economy outcome (9.9%) and the International outcome (9.7%). Growth in the number of publications by at least 5.9% was observed across all National Outcome areas.

Annual output of publications related to Scotland’s National Performance Framework.

The report illustrates Scotland’s strong contribution to research related to the SDGs and the NPF.

  • The first part benchmarks Scotland’s SDG-related research compared with other UK nations and global comparators.
  • The second section highlights research performance in relation to the NPF.
  • The third section looks at each SDG, with case studies from across Scotland. Comparisons explore the relative contribution of Scottish SDG research in a UK context. As well as against five key international competitor countries – Ireland, Germany, Italy, USA and China.
A graph from the report outlining the number and Field Weighted Citation Impact of National Performance Framework related publications. Scottish research connected to the NPF had a high citation impact during the period considered (with a FWCI of 2.3). The citation rate for research related to all NPF outcomes was 2.3, surpassing the average citation rating of Scotland’s total output at 1.8, indicating that Scottish research connected to the NPF can be considered one of our country’s national strengths. The outcomes for Children, Education and Health showed a particularly high citation impact (2.4, 2.6 and 2.7 respectively).

Count and Field Weighted Citation Impact of National Performance Framework related publications.

What were the findings of the report?

  • Scotland is a leading research nation with a productive research community, publishing highly regarded research. Overall, Scotland’s research received 80% more citations in peer reviewed research than the global average.
  • Scotland’s research makes a significant contribution towards the National Outcomes. In the past 10 years, almost one third of Scotland’s research was directly related to the NPF.
  • Research connected to the NPF was highly regarded. And grew annually across each of the 11 National Outcome areas.
  • Over the last decade, almost a third of Scotland’s research was related to the SDGs.
  • Scotland is highly regarded by the international research community for the contribution it’s making to the SDGs.
  • Scotland’s researchers play a key role in an international community working to achieve the ambitions of the NPF and the SDGs. Scotland’s research was cited twice the global average.
  • Business or industry collaboration with universities is a key part of Scotland’s SDG-related research. Scotland’s share of business or industry collaboration in published research is more than twice the world average.
  • Almost half of all Scottish SDG-related research contributed to an improved understanding of good health and wellbeing (SDG 3).
  • Scotland’s research also contributed significantly to the goals of
    • ending hunger,
    • improving clean water and sanitation,
    • ensuring affordable and clean energy,
    • addressing climate change and
    • understanding life on land and below water (SDGs 2, 6, 7, 13, 14 and 15).
  • Scotland was highly regarded in many SDG areas, most notably research around
    • food poverty,
    • natural resources,
    • climate change,
    • good health and wellbeing,
    • education,
    • gender equality and
    • clean water and sanitation (SDGs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 13).

What else is in the report?

Citation metrics are one way of measuring academic impact. But it’s not straightforward to map research publications to the NPF and SDGs. So the report also includes case studies from Scotland’s institutions. These case studies highlight research contribution across each of the 17 SDGs.

During the launch event we heard directly from some of these, including an amazing example of the response to COVID-19 from the University of Glasgow. We also heard about research from Glasgow Caledonian University exploring solutions for tackling poverty. And about Heriot-Watt’s work creating a smart energy island.

What next

Scotland needs to continue to capitalise on its national research strength in order to achieve the National Outcomes. Scottish Government Higher Education colleagues will look carefully at the report. They will use the findings to inform research policy and consider how it can contribute to national and international challenges.

Find out more

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) is Scotland’s national strategic body, funding colleges and universities. It wants Scotland to be the best place in the world to learn, educate, research and innovate. SFC’s funding also supports the translation of research findings into benefits for Scotland’s economy and society – through academic collaboration with industry, businesses and third sector organisations.

You can read the full report on SFC’s website.

The report also has full details of the methodology and process used by Elsevier.

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