Australia still punching above its weight in science output

Nature, NPI 2011 Asia-Pacific


22 MARCH 2012

Australia is a top performer when it comes to science output per capita and per scientist — that’s the picture emerging from the Nature Publishing Index 2011 Asia-Pacific, released today. According to the Index, Australia consolidated its position as the third most productive country for high-quality primary research in the rapidly developing Asia-Pacific region.

The top five research countries in the Asia-Pacific, and their ranking, are the same as they were in 2010, with a dominant Japan leading a fast-growing China. But Australia’s investment in science infrastructure and the industriousness of its research scientists seem to be paying off. Australia comfortably increased its lead over fourth-placed Korea and fifth-placed Singapore in 2011. Singapore and Australia are first and second respectively in terms of GDP per capita in the Asia-Pacific. They are also first and second for the numbers of articles per capita and per scientific researcher published in Nature research journals in 2011.

The top-performing research institutions in Australia over the past three years are the University of Melbourne, University of Queensland and Australian National University. At 64, 86 and 97 respectively, these three are the only Australian institutions in the Nature Publishing Index 2011 Global Top 100 (beta) rankings, also published today. Among other Australian institutions, notable is the rapid rise of James Cook University (JCU) to number ten in the national rankings.

The Nature Publishing Index 2011 Asia-Pacific measures the output of research articles from nations and institutions in terms of publications in 2011 in the prestigious Nature research journals. The Index, which provides a unique insight into the quality and impact of Australian and Asia-Pacific science, is published as a supplement to Nature today.

The supplement provides a snapshot of research in the Asia-Pacific in 2011. To see the latest results for the region, and the Nature Publishing Index Global 2011 Top 100 (beta), visit the index website at The data posted on the website is updated every week with a moving window of 12 months of data.


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Notes on the Nature Publishing Index:

The Index results should be used with some caveats. The Index only covers Nature and the 17 Nature research journals, so while it offers broad coverage of basic research in the life sciences, physical and chemical sciences, coverage of applied sciences, engineering and clinical medicine is relatively limited, and so the index should be used primarily as an indicator of strength in high quality basic research. It does not incorporate publication in other high quality journals. The Index also only considers one factor — publication output in one family of journals. It does not weight multiple factors in the way that other rankings do, such as the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities or the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The output of an institution or country obviously depends on its size. Finally, some institutions have very large numbers of researchers that help drive up their rankings. So it is important to take into account the numbers of researchers in an institution or country when interpreting the results.

The Nature Publishing Index Global 100 (beta) ( ranks the top 100 institutions in the world according to the numbers of papers published in Nature research journals in 2011, and is derived from a beta website covering over 2500 institutions worldwide that published in Nature research journals in 2011. The Nature Publishing Index Global Top 50 is produced in collaboration with Digital Science, a division of Macmillan Publisher Ltd.

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