Impact factor:Australian scientists and academics published over a quarter of a million research papers between 1996 and 2006.
Australian science is punching well above its weight despite research funding below the level of other developed nations, a new analysis reveals.
When it comes to the country's contribution of published research papers Australia is helping shape the future, or so says a report flagged up by the The Australian newspaper. That report argues that Australia ranks in the top 10 of nations most published in international academic journals; the mainstay of the scientific community.
Excelling above expectations
"It's gratifying [to see Australia] feature well above what the standard is. We excel in sport above expectations but I think that science research does too, though it's not really recognised in that way," said Michael Barber group executive for information, manufacturing and minerals at government research body CSIRO in Sydney.
In the report - published by Thomson Scientific, an international business information research organisation - the total number of papers published between 1996 and 2006 is surveyed for 13 nations, taking into account the number of times each paper had been cited by others.
The results show the number of the most cited one per cent of papers worldwide each country achieved over that period.
Leading the field was the U.S. with over 50,000 of the top papers and a total of over 2.9 million publications in that period. The runners up were Britain and Germany.
Australia comes out number eight in the list for contribution to the most cited one per cent of papers - sandwiched between Italy and China - with a total of over a quarter of a million papers published during that time.
Australia actually moves up into the top five nations for research when our population size is taken into account, health scientist Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney told The Australian.
He added that the results have been achieved despite the country spending only 0.12 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the 0.2 per cent average spent by the mostly developed nations that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
"What might we achieve if research was taken as seriously as other nations?" said Chapman.
Kurt Lambeck, president of the Australian Academy of Science, based in Canberra, told Cosmos Online the results are interesting but he wondered if Australian scientists are "publishing [significant numbers of] papers in the most relevant fields of science…like nuclear science, engineering and nanotechnology which are currently very important."
CSIRO's Barber said that if we're not, we have to step up to the plate - and "make sure we're encouraging science and its research… The challenge is to take the science-based knowledge we are developing and translate it into social, economic and environmental gains."