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Science and Research3.4 Research Output

3.4.1 Share of world scientific publications

Australia's share of the world's scientific publications has been growing steadily, rising from 3.3 per cent in 2008 to 4.2 per cent in 2017, which is an order of magnitude higher than Australia's share of world population (0.32 per cent).[83] Australia's share of the top one per cent and top ten per cent of highly cited publications are also considerably higher than its share of the world's total publications, suggesting that the quality of Australia's science publications is well above average. While the United States still contributes a quarter of the world's publications its share has been gradually diminishing over time, primarily due to the increase of China's contribution to world publications.[84]

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3.4.2 Research fields with higher-than-world average citation rate

Research is becoming increasingly data-intensive and multidisciplinary. The latest OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook report suggests that materials research, for example, increasingly incorporates 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 of research and innovation across all sectors.[85] Australian research excellence is spread across the breadth of Essential Science Indicators (ESI) Research Areas.[86] The number of research fields in which publications including an Australian author achieve above world average citation impact has doubled from 11 research fields in 1991 to all 22 research fields in 2017.[87]

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3.4.3 Publications per $ billion non-business R&D

Research efficiency can be measured in terms of number of scientific publications per $ billion invested in non-business R&D. Australia's researchers have been producing more scientific publications per dollar invested, implying that Australia's research efficiency has improved over time. Specifically, Australia's performance on this metric has lifted from 4,900 publications per $ billion non-business R&D (below OECD average) in 2006, to 6,900 publications per $ billion non-business R&D (well above OECD average) in 2015.[88]

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3.4.4 Publications per million population

Research efficiency can be measured not only by the rate of research output per dollar invested but also as the ratio of research output to the general population. Australia's research activities draw on talent from a relatively small but well-educated population. In 2017, Australia contributed to around 2,900 publications per million population, ranking 6th in the OECD, and was well above the OECD average of 1,800 publications per million population. Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark are the top three ranking countries in the OECD for this measure.[89]

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

Australia contributes to an increasing share of the world's best publications. Australian authors were credited in 8.6 per cent of the world's top one per cent highly cited publications and 6.2 per cent of the world's top ten per cent highly cited publications for all disciplines in 2017. Australia's share of both top one and top ten per cent highly cited publications has risen sharply since 2005, largely due to the contribution of scientific publications including international collaboration. While rates of international collaboration have risen around the world, Australia has gained a greater boost to citations compared to the OECD average.[90]

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