Scotland is “punching above its weight” in the science and research sector, according to a new report.
The Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) study compares how it has performed over the past decade against other similar sized countries.
The report found researchers in Scotland are “highly productive”, the level of research in the country is of a high quality and Scotland has exhibited increased collaboration globally.
Science Minister Richard Lochhead said the report confirms Scotland’s place as a global leader in science and innovation.
Mr Lochhead said: “The strengths of our nation’s science and innovation sector, and a reputation built up over generations, are a credit to our people and institutions.
“Our researchers are at the heart of global networks working on some of the most urgent issues of our time, shaping the future and underpinning our economy.
“We can’t rest on our laurels or ignore the challenges we face but it is truly astonishing that a country the size of Scotland continues to lead the world in many areas of science and innovation.
“This report highlighting Scotland’s remarkable achievements in science comes at a time when Brexit means our research base now faces unprecedented risks.
“We know that Scotland’s research has been strengthened by EU citizens working in Scotland and our membership of the European Union.
“The Scottish Government will do all it can to protect research collaboration across Europe and will continue to be firm in the fact that Scotland’s research institutions will remain open and welcoming after Brexit.”
SSAC chairman Professor Paul Boyle urged the Scottish Government to consider future strategy in supporting the sector to retain high standards.
He said: “There’s a lot to celebrate about the Scottish science base, with many indicators showing that Scotland punches above its weight in terms of the quality and quantity of research produced.
“However, other nations are emerging as major players in science, increasing their capability for quality research.
“Any changes to Scotland’s ability to attract the very best researchers from around the world is also likely to have an impact.
“There are therefore strategic issues that the Scottish Government needs to consider to help ensure that Scottish science and research maintains its leading position.”
Professor Sheila Rowan, Scotland’s chief scientific adviser, said: “Scotland is a great place to do science and this report provides a useful snapshot of research activity over the past decade.
“I look forward to working with colleagues across the Scottish science base and the Scottish Government to do what we can to protect Scotland’s advantage in many areas of science.”