University of dundee news

University of dundee news

Dundee ranks in world top 30 in Leiden rankings of scientific impact

19 May 2017

   The University of Dundee has been rated among the world’s best universities in terms of impact of scientific research, being placed 28thin the 2017 CWTS Leiden Rankings.

The CWTS Leiden Rankings offer key insights into the scientific performance of over 900 major universities worldwide. A sophisticated set of bibliometric indicators provides statistics on the scientific impact of universities and on universities’ involvement in scientific collaboration.

Dundee is ranked 28th in the world when looking at the proportion of a University’s published scientific research that ranks in the top 1 per cent in the field.

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“This is an extraordinary achievement for a relatively small-to-medium sized university on the east coast of Scotland,” said Professor Tim Newman, Vice-Principal Research at the University of Dundee.

“The Leiden ranking speaks to excellence in research and scientific impact so it is extremely pleasing to see Dundee ranking so highly. In terms of the numbers of scientific papers that we publish we are never going to compete with the very large institutions but the more important thing is to generate quality rather than quantity.

“The only institutions in the UK ranking ahead of us are the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Cambridge, Oxford and University College, London, so we are in very good company.”

Dundee’s performance is similarly strong when expanding the data to look at the proportion of scientific research published by a university that ranks in the top 10 per cent in the field. By that measure Dundee is 42nd in the world, again top in Scotland and eighth in the UK.

The Leiden rankings also consider university collaboration with industrial partners. On the proportion of a university’s publications that have been co-authored with one or more industrial partners, Dundee ranks 73rd in the world, which is second in the UK and top in Scotland.

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A mother’s touch may help to bond with unborn babies


Babies may be able to recognise their mother’s touch while still in the womb, helping them to bond even before birth, according to new research carried out at the University of Dundee.

Researchers from the University’s Psychology department used 4D ultrasound videos to record the reaction of unborn children when different people touching their mother’s stomach during pregnancy. They found that babies were most likely to reach out and touch the wall of the uterus when their mother caressed her bump.

The response was nowhere near as strong when strangers or even the child’s father rubbed the mother’s stomach. This may explain why mothers often feel their babies moving about when they touch their stomach only for it to stop when a partner or friend tries to feel it.

The researchers say the unborn babies were particularly responsive to touch in the third trimester, suggesting this is a key period for the development of a child’s self-awareness. A video of a child responding to its mother’s touch during ultrasound can be found at

Viola Marx, a PhD student at the University, was the lead author on the study. She says the findings may help to shed light on the development of the mother-child bond.

“Mothers spontaneously and also intentionally touch their abdomen during pregnancy, often with the intention to communicate with the foetus,” she said. “We showed that the foetuses responded to the mother’s touching of her abdomen. Any stimulation can be beneficial to the development of the foetus and the bonding of the mother, father and the foetus.

“Previous research has shown unborn babies also respond when their mother talks to them, helping them learn to recognise her voice after birth. Touch during pregnancy may also play a similar role. This familiarity between baby and mother is most likely due to the engagement of the mother with the developing foetus during pregnancy.

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“The mothers’ touch is accompanied by the movement of her whole body,” she explained. “It could also be the style of touch and the familiarity of the touch.”

The researchers studied how 28 infants responded to touch by different people – their mother, father and strangers.

The study, published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, also found unborn babies touched themselves less during the mother’s touch compared to when a stranger was doing the rubbing. Surprisingly, the unborn babies responded more to the stranger’s touch than the fathers.

Study co-author Dr Emese Nagy, a reader in psychology at the University, believes this may be due to differences in the way father’s touched their partner’s abdomen.

“It is possible that fathers worry about hurting the mother and child and touch too gently as a result, while the stranger tends to copy what the mother did herself,” she said. “It may be that babies are able to recognise their own mother’s touch in a number of ways but we need to carry out more research to understand this better. Further work is also needed to understand the ‘meaning’ of the behaviour of the foetus in response to touch and its relationship to the bonding of the mother and her unborn child.”

The paper can be read at

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