Benchmarking Australian Science Performance

22 February 2013

Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb has released a new look at our national scientific performance.

“It has often been said that we punch above our weight. While that may be true, it appears that our aspiration needs to be higher,’’ Professor Chubb said.

The analysis of citation rate (as an indicator of research quality) is contained in the latest occasional paper from the Office of the Chief Scientist.

“In terms of citation per paper, we do not out-perform the countries with an embedded scientific culture that we might aspire to be like – the Western European democracies, Scandinavia or the United States and Canada,’’ Professor Chubb said.

A second supplement released with the occasional paper shows that the citation rates of 30 per cent of Australian papers are above the European average.

The supplement also shows that more than half the Australian papers are below world average.

Professor Chubb said Australia did perform better than its regional neighbours using the same measure – average citations per paper over a 15-year period.

While Australia outperforms the world standard for research quality in most fields using this measure, so do the countries with which we share scientific culture.

“We should compare ourselves with the best in the world. We should not compare ourselves with the rest of the world.’’ Professor Chubb said.

As chair of the Australian Research Committee, Professor Chubb is leading development of a framework to improve Australia’s scientific performance and support.

You can download the paper here, supplement one (ordered listings of the fields and sub-fields in Figures 3 and 4) is available here and supplement two (global comparison of citation rates) is available here.

If you want to view the slideshow Professor Chubb presented to the Universities Australia higher education conference on February 28, click here

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