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Science and Research3.4 Research Output

3.4.1 Share of world scientific publications

Australia has a considerably higher share of highly-cited publications than its share of world population, suggesting that the quality of Australia's scientific publications is well above the world average. Australia's share of the world's scientific publications has been growing steadily, rising from 3.6 per cent in 2011 to 4.2 per cent in 2019, which is an order of magnitude higher than Australia's 0.3 per cent share of world population.[90] While the United States still contributes over a quarter of the world's publications, its share has gradually diminished over time, primarily due to China's increased contribution. China's share of the world's scientific publications has more than doubled since 2011, reaching 24.9 per cent in 2019.[91]

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3.4.2 Australian research fields with higher-than-world-average citation rates

Research is becoming increasingly data-intensive and multidisciplinary. The 2018 OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook report suggests that materials research, for example, increasingly incorporate disciplines beyond traditional science and engineering or physics — such as chemical engineering, bio-engineering, applied mathematics, computer science and mechanical engineering. Moreover, new possibilities for handling data have made them core inputs to research and innovation across all sectors.[92] Australian research excellence has steadily increased over the last 30 years and is now spread across the whole breadth of the Essential Science Indicators.[93] These indicators, based on publication and citation performance, cover 22 broad research fields and provide an analytical tool to help identify top-performing research. Since 2013, Australia has achieved higher-than-world-average citation rates in each of these research fields.[94]

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3.4.3 Scientific publications per $ million non-business R&D

Research efficiency can be measured in terms of the number of scientific publications per $ million invested in non-business R&D. Australia's performance on this metric has lifted from 4.9 publications per $ million non-business R&D in 2006 (below the corresponding OECD average of 5.3) to 6.9 publications per $ million non-business R&D in 2015 (well above the corresponding OECD average of 5.9). This indicates that Australia's researchers have become more productive at generating scientific publications per dollar invested and clearly highlights improvements in relation to the OECD average. This suggests that Australia's research efficiency has notably improved over the period.[95]

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3.4.4 Scientific publications per million population

Research efficiency can be measured not only by the research output per dollar invested but also by the research output relative to the general population. Australia's scientific research activities draw on talent from a relatively small but well-educated population. In 2017, Australia contributed to around 3,047 publications per million population, well above the OECD average of 1,871. It ranks 6th in the OECD for this measure. Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark are the three top ranking countries.[96]

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3.4.5 Share of top one and top ten per cent highly-cited publications

Australia's share of both top 1 per cent and top 10 per cent highly-cited publications has risen sharply since 2005. In 2019, Australian authors were credited in 8.2 per cent of the world's top 1 per cent highly cited publications and in 6.2 per cent of the world's top 10 per cent highly cited publications for all disciplines. Further, while rates of international collaboration have risen around the world, Australia has experienced a greater increase in its publication citations involving international collaboration compared to the OECD average.[97]