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NZ earns praise for scientific research

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/10/2016

New Zealand is taking full advantage of its unique geology and natural environment to produce high quality research in the natural sciences, according to the Nature Index.

Despite being a country of just 4.5 million people, it sits 30th overall in the 2016 index, ahead of the likes of South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Argentina, which have larger populations and economies.

It climbs to 15th when measuring research output in Earth and environmental sciences.

"The index show that many of New Zealand's research strengths are rooted in the benefits and challenges of its position on the globe," index founder David Swinbanks says.

Otago University is the highest-placed New Zealand institution on the list, ahead Auckland University, with Victoria third.

Mr Swinbanks says Otago, on the seismically active South Island, is a leader in tectonic research.

He says proximity to Antarctica has also led to New Zealand's impressive performance in climate science, work that Victoria has been at the forefront of for decades.

Meanwhile, Auckland excels in the life sciences, including drug discovery and bioengineering.

The index tracks the research of more than 8000 institutions and their contribution to 68 high-quality journals.

Nature Research, which is part of the organisation that publishes the Nature scientific weekly, collects the data for the index.

It cautions that the data cover only the natural sciences and the outputs are non-normalised, that is, they don't reflect the size of the country or institution, or its overall research output.

The top three countries on the list are the United States, China and Germany.

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