University of Otago is New Zealand’s top high quality research contributor in the Nature Index

Press release from Springer Nature

Otago at 303 in global index of thousands of universities, ahead of Auckland at 386

New Zealand is 30th globally for its contribution to high-quality scientific research papers, according to the Nature Index Tables released together today. That puts it just behind Ireland, but ahead of Saudi Arabia, Chile, and Argentina.

The US remains the world’s largest contributor to high-quality scientific research papers, followed by China and Germany, according to the Nature Index 2016 Tables. Australia is 12th.

The University of Otago is New Zealand’s leading research university in the index, placed 303 in the world ahead of the University of Auckland at 386.

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 nearly 60,000 high-quality papers each year and considers both the number of papers and the relative contribution of its authors.   The index tracks over 8,000 institutions worldwide, of which over 3,600 are universities and academic educational institutions.

Auckland researchers were listed as authors on 141 papers, 42 more than their Otago peers. However, papers with Otago authors featured fewer authors from other institutions, bringing Otago to the top of the Nature Index for New Zealand in terms of contribution of their authors.

The good news for The University of Auckland is that it is significantly more collaborative than its rival according to the Nature Index, as indicated by its relatively high number of articles versus its share of authorship. However, the contribution of Auckland authors to the index has declined by, on average, 3 per cent per annum from 2012 to 2015. In the same period Otago has shown compound annual average growth of over 6 per cent.

“Otago University is an institution that clearly has a hunger to succeed despite its geographic isolation and the Nature Index shows that, for a number of years, it is a growing source of high quality research output” says David Swinbanks, founder of the Nature Index.

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

Nature Index: New Zealand results

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

weighted contribution from 2012-2015

303 University of Otago 31.56 99 6.1%
386 The University of Auckland 21.08 141 -3.0%

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.

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG)

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, and a range of prestigious academic and partner journals including society-owned publications. Online, provides over 8 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and services, including news and comment from Nature, and the leading scientific jobs board Naturejobs.

About Springer Nature

Springer Nature is a leading global research, educational and professional publisher, home to an array of respected and trusted brands providing quality content through a range of innovative products and services. Springer Nature is the world’s largest academic book publisher, publisher of the world’s most influential journals and a pioneer in the field of open research. The company numbers almost 13,000 staff in over 50 countries and has a turnover of approximately €1.5 billion. Springer Nature was formed in 2015 through the merger of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. Find out more: and follow @SpringerNature.