Australian Research Shows Size Does Not Necessarily Matter: With Only 0.3% of the World's Population, Australia Still Punches Well Above Its Weight in Terms of Research Published and Cited

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Data released in June 2007 by Thomson Scientific, the global scientific community's chief reference point for measuring research performance, show that on a per capita basis, Australia's research efforts are impressive and it is the number two country in the world in terms of all research published.

Between 1996 and 2006 Australia published a total of 248,189 papers making it the second most productive country to publish research papers on a per capita basis.

    Thomson Scientific ranked 13 countries based on published scientific papers that reached the top one per cent of most-cited papers (as identified by its Web of Science) worldwide between 1996 to 2006.

Fred Welz, Senior Investment Commissioner for North America, said that with just over 20 million people -- about the same as the state of New York -- Australia had the smallest population of the 13 countries surveyed.

"Between 1996 and 2006 Australia published a total of 248,189 papers making it the second most productive country to publish research papers on a per capita basis."

"Given the sheer size of the US, it is little surprise that it published more than ten times the number of scientific papers than Australia. Interestingly, when adjusted for population, Australia is ranked second and the US slips to fourth accounting for about 20% fewer papers produced than Australia on a per capita basis," he said.

An important key measure of research quality is the number of times other researchers cite papers, and against this criterion Australia ranked a respectable eighth with a total of 2,804 papers classed among the top one per cent of most cited papers by the scientific community.

Again, when this is adjusted for population, Australia jumps to fourth, demonstrating the quality of Australian researchers with published papers extensively cited by the scientific community around the world. This also points to the significance and relevance of the research being carried out.

When these results are also placed in the context of relative expenditure on research -- where the NIH supported US basic research to the tune of approximately $US 28.6 billion in 2006, the 2004-5 Australian government expenditure on research and development in Australia was equivalent to US$2.172.17 billion -- demonstrating a healthy return on investment in research in Australia.

Welz said this information and data supports the long term vision of the Australian Government's A$83 billion (approx US$7.2 billion) innovation strategy, first announced in 2001 and then further strengthened in 2004. In May this year the Australian Government also introduced substantial research and development tax concessions together with other incentives to enhance the commercialization effort of Australian industry in a US$1.2 billion support package over the next 10 years. The important new tax change, which allows claims for the 175% tax concession for any intellectual property developed in Australia which is held in the corporate home office of a multinational corporation, is a positive step in the global development and commercialization of research and technology developed in Australia.

With its greater focus towards commercialization and Australia's combination of a low cost research base and impressive pool of talent, Australia is demonstrating itself to be a highly competitive destination for research.

About Invest Australia -

Invest Australia, is the Australian Government's inward investment agency that helps international companies build their business in Australia and offers investors a free, comprehensive and confidential service. Between July 2002 and June 2007, Invest Australia played a verified role in attracting or facilitating 387 projects worth approximately A$55.8 billion, with the potential to create more than 27,900 jobs and generate A$12.6 billion in export earnings.

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Sarah Duckett
Invest Australia
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