Spanish University Research Activity
UC3M/DICYT The Spanish University has lost resources and researchers in recent years, but has improved its international productivity and competitiveness, according to data from the new annual IUNE report on university R+D+i. This Alianza 4U observatory, made up of the following universities: Autónoma de Barcelona, Autónoma de Madrid, Carlos III de Madrid and Pompeu Fabra, presented its new research activity report for the Spanish University system (SUE in Spanish) in the past decade.
IUNE, using 47 indicators, analyzes information for 74 public and private Spanish universities for the years between 2005 and 2014, a period of great consequence for SUE scientific activity, according to the report’s authors. “The effect of the crisis on universities is being particularly grave, since, in addition to the large drop in economic resources due to budget cuts, we have to add the hold on renewal of university staff and the freeze on faculty promotion and all university personnel,” noted the IUNE Observatory coordinator, UC3M Full Professor, Elías Sanz Casado.
According to the report’s conclusions, during this period there has been a significant loss of resources in the Spanish scientific university system. Specifically, funding by researchers has decreased 6.7% in recent years. (From 112,240€ in 2008 to 104,890€ in 2014) and the evolution of university spending witnessed a nearly 8% drop in 2014 with respect to 2010.
Nevertheless, there was also a strong reaction on the part of the Spanish universities, which are responding in exemplary fashion according to many of the indicators analyzed. Specifically, they has improved their figures for output, visibility, international collaboration, competitiveness, and participation in European Union scientific projects, for example.
In the past decade, the universities’ scientific output in the Web of Science (one of the chief data bases for worldwide scientific output) nearly doubled, from 26,124 publications in 2005 to 51,301 in 2014 (96.7% more). As a consequence, a marked increase in the scientific output of the universities’ faculty can be observed, going from an average of .045 papers per professor in 2005 to 0.81 in 2014. Furthermore, the visibility of these researchers has also grown, since the publications in the first quartile (where the top scientific journals are located) represented 53.23% of all papers published by university professors in 2014
More than half of domestic scientific output in three regional communities
By regional community, the highest scientific output is held by Catalonia (with 100,313 publications in the ten- year period; 22.72% of total SUE publications) while Madrid holds second place (78,032 publications; 17.67% of the total). Andalucía comes in third (60,806 publications; 13.77%), ahead of the Valencian Regional Community (49,994 publications; 11.32% of the SUE contribution). In addition, Galicia and the Basque Country, despite their smaller size, have undergone significant growth in the last decade.
With respect to scientific cooperation with other institutions, the significant increase in international collaboration is noteworthy, with the United States being the most attractive for Spanish universities, followed by United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy. Collaboration among authors also improved and experienced important growth throughout the decade.
Innovation and funding
With respect to innovation activity, between 2004 and 2014 4,153 patents were granted to universities, representing a growth rate of 136.4%. The creation of university supported spin-offs experienced different behavior, being very irregular during the ten-year period; this area witnessed its best year in 2013, with 127 companies of this type, while the smallest number of companies were created in 2014 (89).
As for competitive funding, Spanish universities experienced a twofold trend: on one hand, participation in national plans and government research continued to decrease (due to the slowdown in these projects as well as their decreased funding), on the other hand, participation in the European Framework Program and Horizon 2020 scientific programs since 2009 did increase.
As in previous editions, the IUNE Observatory is able to obtain disaggregated information for each of the public and private universities. To obtain the data that it analyzes, it uses official information sources, such as the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (National Institute of Statistics; INE in Spanish), the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport; MECD in Spanish), the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness; MINECO in Spanish), the Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas (Spanish Office of Brands and Patents; OEPM in Spanish), and the Centro para el Desarrollo Industrial (Center for Industrial Development; CDTI in Spanish).