UQ number one in science says Nature Index, and Microsoft’s Station Q settles at Sydney Nanoscience Hub

Media bulletins

Australia was number 12 in high-quality global research in 2015 according to the Nature Index released overnight in London.

The Group of Eight universities jostle again for the top eight places in Australia, with UQ on top, followed by Monash, ANU, and Melbourne.

Australia is just ahead of India and three places behind South Korea. The US leads the index, followed by China, Germany, the UK and Japan.

Globally, Harvard University is the leading university followed by Stanford University, The University of Tokyo and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Media release below and see all the details at www.natureindex.com/annual-tables/2016.

Also today:

Microsoft’s Station Q has landed at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub at the University of Sydney.

Yesterday, Microsoft research leaders revealed that their global research program into quantum computing has a Sydney hub – Station Q Sydney.

It was one of a series of stories at the launch of the $150 million Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology at The University of Sydney.

Some of the technologies being developed there will enable:

  • Light-powered chips for computers and smartphones.
  • Unhackable communication using individual photons of light – in March they demonstrated a way to reliably generate single photons.
  • Using nanosized diamonds to identify early-stage cancers in MRI scans.
  • Beyond lithium – powerful, safe, cheap batteries built into homes and offices using zinc bromine gel technology – a spin-out company is already commercialising the technology in Australia and Europe.
  • Catalysts that will crack oil more efficiently and that open the way to cheaper, cleaner biofuels – with three spin out companies, a 10,000 tonne pilot plant and a 200,000+ tonne commercial plant planned.
  • Aluminium alloys strong enough for aircraft and cars.
  • Third generation steel that could take 100 kg off the weight of a steel car, reducing fuel use and carbon emissions – already being trialled by steelmakers.

Last week the Institute’s Director signed an $11 million battery development deal with UK company Armstrong which specialises in solar energy at utility-scale – http://bit.ly/1V2BcWp

More on the Institute at sydney.edu.au/nano.

Coming up:

  • Edward Snowden – (you know who he is!) virtually on tour in Melbourne and Sydney in May www.thinkinc.org.au
  • The last man on the Moon, Gene Cernan, physically on tour with Lisa Harvey-Smith in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Carnarvon (!) last May and early June presented by Live on Stage www.liveonstageaustralia.com.au
  • Fresh Science – early career researchers with discoveries, over the next few months in most capital cities www.freshscience.org

And prizes:


Kind regards,


Australia is number 12 in high quality global research in Nature Index

Group of Eight jostle for high-quality scientific research leadership in Australia

Australia is placed 12th globally for its contribution to high-quality scientific research papers, according to the Nature Index Tables released together today.

Australia is just ahead of India and three places behind South Korea. The US leads the index, followed by China, Germany, the UK and Japan.

The Nature Index Tables show the Nature Index calendar year outputs for the last four years. Between 2012 and 2015, China’s contribution to the Nature Index grew by an annual average of 12.8 per cent. Australia grew by an average 3.3 per cent per annum over the same period.

In Australia, the members of the Group of Eight fill the top eight positions, with The University of Queensland leading at 89 on the global university list. Monash University is 93 globally, the Australian National University is at 100, and The University of Melbourne at 130. Australia has eleven universities in the top 500 institutions in the index, which tracks over 8,000 institutions worldwide.

Globally, Harvard University is the leading university followed by Stanford University, The University of Tokyo and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Nature Index is built on an institution’s contributions to about 60,000 high-quality papers each year and counts both the number of papers and the relative contribution of the authors.

The University of Melbourne researchers were listed as authors on 164 more papers than their Queensland peers, however The University of Queensland had greater ownership of their papers – fewer authors from other institutions – bringing them to the top of the index in terms of contribution to the articles. The good news for The University of Melbourne is that the index shows it is more collaborative than its rival.

The index indicates that Curtin University is the most collaborative of the Australian universities in the top 500 of the index as shown by its article count being much higher than the relative contribution from its authors. It was also the biggest Australian mover in the index, improving by a compound annual average of 22.2 per cent between 2012 and 2015.

CSIRO, the national science agency, is not included in the list of universities. Its weighted index contribution is 44.03, about half that of the top three Australian universities, placing it seventh amongst all Australian institutions in the index. Its contribution has been flat over the past four years.

“The Nature Index confirms that Australia still plays above its weight in global science but it also illustrates that the growth in investment in science in China is paying dividends with a rapid growth in high-quality science,” says David Swinbanks, the Founder of the Nature Index.

“The index also illustrates the continuing leadership of the Group of Eight universities in Australian research with little to choose between the top six,” he says.

For comment in Australia please contact:

The full Nature Index is available at www.natureindex.com/annual-tables/2016

The full Australian placings in the list of 410 global universities are

Global university ranking Weighted contribution of the university to ~60,000 high-quality papers published in 2015
Number of articles with an author from the university in ~60,000 high-quality papers in 2015
Average annual growth rate  in the
weighted contribution from 2012-2015
89 The University of Queensland (UQ) 98.09 348 6.1
93 Monash University 92.57 364 0.4
100 Australian National University (ANU) 92.26 505 3.2
130 The University of Melbourne (UniMelb) 82.03 512 -2.0
136 University of New South Wales (UNSW) 79.09 256 9.2
143 The University of Sydney (USYD) 75.63 464 1.7
241 The University of Western Australia (UWA) 41.69 324 -3.7
312 The University of Adelaide (Adelaide Uni) 30.49 182 0.8
358 Curtin University 24.16 233 22.2
393 Macquarie University 20.60 157 4.5
396 The University of Wollongong (UOW) 20.33 61 -5.8

About the Nature Index

The Nature Index database tracks the author affiliations of 60,000 high-quality scientific articles each year. The Nature Index Tables, which show the Nature Index calendar year outputs for the last four years, are released today for the first time. The tables reveal absolute publication productivity in broad subject areas for countries, universities, companies and hospitals. Variance in article output compared with prior year is included. Measures include article count (AC), the total number of affiliated articles; fractional count (FC), which accounts for the relative contribution of each affiliation to an article; and weighted fractional count (WFC), which applies a weighting to FC to adjust for imbalances in the index’s subject coverage. (See notes for editors for full definitions of measures.)

The Nature Index website — www.natureindex.com — provides free, quick and simple access to the recent research profiles of over 8,000 global institutions and 150 countries. The data behind the 2016 tables remains freely accessible, enabling users to examine patterns of publication and collaboration down to the article level where measures of their media impact are tracked in real time.

To accompany the release of the Nature Index Tables, a News section has been added to the Nature Index website. Here, the Nature Index editors will provide ongoing editorial analysis and commentary around the most recent data, including organisational and country-level profiles and infographics. The analysis will include additional information from other data sources, such as demographics, national spend on research and development, and changes to science policy and funding, that will help to put the Nature Index data into context.

David Swinbanks, Founder of the Nature Index, commented: “The Nature Index delivers a freely accessible and straightforward way to analyse high quality scientific research output that complements the other metrics and evaluation tools currently available to the research community. By focusing on a relatively small number of articles that have been identified as high quality by an independent group of practising scientists from relevant disciplines, we aim to provide a targeted view of high quality output for institutions, policy makers, research analysts, commercial organizations and the wider scientific community. Now with over four years of data, the Nature Index is becoming an increasingly powerful tool that provides more than just a snapshot as the addition of each year’s data helps to elucidate trends in high quality research output and changing patterns of collaboration over time.”

More information about the Nature Index is available at www.natureindex.com

More on the Great Barrier Reef

What do we know about the impact of bleaching and the ability of the Reef to recover?

John Gunn, the Director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and his colleagues have put together backgrounders on the issue.

They’ve also reported on the latest long-term monitoring that showed that prior to the bleaching event, coral cover on the southern Reef had nearly doubled since 2012. But further north, coral cover had continued to decline.

You can read a summary of the latest long term monitoring report at: http://bit.ly/1RXf1gL

You can read about their work on bleaching at:  http://bit.ly/1RXf0tb

And don’t forget ‘David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef’ part 3 this Sunday at 7.40 pm. AIMS worked with him on the program, as they did on his very first epic nature series, Life on Earth, back in 1979.

More about Science in Public

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Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.

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Niall Byrne

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