Top research universities in the UK

9 June 2016

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The University of Oxford is the top research university in the Nature Index for the first time.

A new chapter in an old rivalry

For the first time in four years, the University of Oxford has replaced the University of Cambridge as the top research university in the United Kingdom, according to data from the Nature Index.

Since 2012, when the index started tracking articles published in 68 high-impact journals, the University of Cambridge has remained the UK's highest ranking university in the index, followed by Oxford.

But a significant rise in the contribution of Oxford researchers to top-tier natural science journals, an 11% increase on their contribution in 2014, pushed the university ahead of its long-time rival. Together Oxbridge researchers have made the largest contribution to journals in the index between 2012 and 2015, compared to other UK universities.

Oxford's accession primarily comes from a rise in output in physical science journals. The university's contribution to those journals, a metric known as weighted fractional count (WFC), rose from 88.4 in 2012 to 122.1 in 2015, a jump of 38%. The university's contribution to chemistry and life science journals also increased over the same time period.

Of the top 10 research universities in the index, nine are in England, with the University of Edinburgh the only institution from Scotland.

University College London came in third place, followed by Imperial College London.

Among the top 50 UK research universities in the index, 40 are in England, six in Scotland, three in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.

By Nicky Phillips

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