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  • A report highlights Alianza 4 Universidades (A4U) research quality

A report highlights Alianza 4 Universidades (A4U) research quality

Composed of UAB, UAM, UC3M and UPF


Competitiveness, impact, and scientific output are three of the strong points of research from the Alianza 4 Universidades (A4U), made up of Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and Pompeu Fabra (UPF), according to the 2020 Report on A4U scientific activity, recently published by the Research Institute for Higher Education and Science (INAECU).

Logo de la Alianza 4 Universidades (A4U)

The study highlights the scientific and technological quality of the A4U universities at the national as well as the international level. These four member universities, for example, have obtained 17.37% of the Horizon 2020 (H2020) projects, out of the entire Spanish university system (SUE). Within this context, they have an average of 1.58 projects for every 100 professors, compared with the national SUE average of 0.55.

Of the total Spanish output for scientific articles published in the Web of Science (WoS) database during the period analyzed (2009-2018), 13.6% is produced by one of the four member universities of the A4U group. These four universities together present a high degree of productivity, with 2.11 articles per professor a year, 2.62 times higher than the SUE average (0.81 articles per professor/year).

As for quality and impact of scientific publications, the A4U has a higher percentage of articles (55.75%) in first quartile journals (the most prestigious ones in each field) than the Spanish university system (52.92%). In relation to the number of citations, usually an indicator of the quality and transcendence of the work, the relative impact of the A4U throughout the period analyzed is 21.27 citations per document, nearly 4 points higher than that obtained by all of the other universities together (17.62 citations per document). For absolute impact (total number of citations), the A4U obtains16.4% of all the citations received by all of the Spanish universities.

Commitment to internationalization and research

The data from the INAECU report also show that collaboration of the A4U has a markedly international character. The universities from this alliance represent 15.67% of international collaboration for all Spanish universities.

The report likewise includes a comparative study of the A4U and other international university systems. On one hand, it analyzes four universities belonging to the Yerun association (Young European Research Universities Network) best classified in the last edition of the ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) ranking: Brunel University London, University of Antwerp, Dauphine Université Paris, and Tor Vergata University of Rome. On the other hand, it is compared to the top five British universities in terms of number of faculty members: University College London; Oxford University; Cambridge University; Imperial College of London; and University of Manchester.

The analysis reveals how the quality of A4U research also maintains a level of excellence on an international scale. Its range of publications in the WoS journals is higher than each one of the universities from the Yerun association included in the study, as well as the sum of all their output combined.At the same time, the A4U holds fifth position in terms of WoS output with respect to the British universities analyzed. Annual output by researchers and professors placesA4U in the third sport with respect to the British universities analyzed, and in second place with respect to the Yerun universities chosen.

During the period 2014-2018 the citations per document for the A4U placed it in the second position compared with the Yerun universities included in this study, and in fifth position with respect to the British ones. The A4U has the second highest percentile of Highly Cited Papers when compared to the Yerun universities, and the fifth highest with respect to the British universities. Lastly, the study highlights that the A4Uis secondin percentage of publications in Open Access,with respect to the Yerun universities selected for analysis.

This report from INAECU (Research Institute for Higher Education and Science Institute)comprised of the Autónoma de Madrid and Carlos III de Madrid universities, assesses the R+D+i of the institutions through a set of indicators on economic resources, competitiveness, excellence, scientific and technological output, visibility in international rankings and research training. For this purpose, it has used information obtained from the IUNE Observatory, the Spanish Center for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), the WoS, the ARWU, QS and THE rankings, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM), the European Patent Office (OEP), the Ministry for Universities, and the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE).

Further information: 

Informe 2020 de la actividad científica de la A4U (PDF)