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

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Press release from Springer Nature

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.

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Read on for a table on the Australian results and further information on how the index is built.

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 — — 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

– Ends –

Notes for editors

About the Nature Index metrics

First launched in November 2014, research articles included in the Nature Index are collated from a group of 68 high-quality natural science journals, which were selected by two independent panels of active scientists, chaired by Professor John Morton (University College London) and Dr Yin-Biao Sun (Kings College, London).

Responses from over 2,800 individuals to a large scale survey were used to validate the selections. Springer Nature estimates that these 68 journals account for nearly 30% of total citations to natural science journals.

A rolling 12 month snapshot of data from the Nature Index is openly available under a Creative Commons license at, so that users can analyse scientific research outputs themselves. On the index website, an institution’s output of articles can be viewed across the 12 month period and broken down by broad subject area. International and domestic collaborations are also shown for each institution.

The Nature Index uses three measures to track affiliation data for individuals:

  • Article count (AC) – A country or institution is given an AC of 1 for each article that has at least one author from that country or institution. This is the case whether an article has one or a hundred authors, and it means that the same article can contribute to the AC of multiple countries or institutions.
  • Fractional Count (FC) – FC takes into account the relative contribution of each author to an article. The total FC available per paper is 1, and this is shared between all authors under the assumption that each contributed equally. For instance, a paper with 10 authors means that each author receives an FC of 0.1. For authors who have worked with joint affiliations, the individual FC is then split equally between each affiliation.
  • Weighted Fractional Count (WFC) – applies a weighting to the FC in order to adjust for the overrepresentation of papers from astronomy and astrophysics. The four journals in these disciplines publish about 50% of all papers in international journals in this field — approximately five times the equivalent figures for other fields. Therefore, although the data for astronomy and astrophysics are compiled in exactly the same way as for all other disciplines, articles from these journals are assigned one-fifth the weight of other articles.

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