Pacific connection boosts partnerships Down Under

Australia and New Zealand see marked growth in research collaborations with China, reports Zoë Corbyn

March 13, 2010

Australia and New Zealand are exploiting their position in the Asia-Pacific region to make themselves increasingly partners of choice for research collaboration with China.

This is the message from a new global research report from Thomson Reuters on the Antipodean countries, Global Research Report: Australia and New Zealand.

It highlights the competition posed to the research powerhouses of Europe and America, which are also seeking to cement links and extend collaborations in Asia.

The report says Australia and New Zealand are “emerging from a past linked to other anglophone nations” to become “complementary partners” to the strongly emerging nations of the Asia-Pacific region, with “marked increases” in collaborations with China.

The proportion of papers co-authored by Australian and Chinese researchers rose from 2.3 per cent of Australian outputs from 1999 to 2003 to 4.4 per cent from 2004 to 2008.

This puts China as Australia’s third-largest collaborator, up from sixth position in the preceding period.

About 6,650 papers were co-authored by Australian and Chinese researchers from 2004 to 2008, compared with 2,650 between 1993 and 2009.

New Zealand’s collaborations with China jumped from 1.4 per cent of its output to 2.3 per cent between 2004 and 2009, with the result that China moved from being New Zealand’s eighth largest collaborator to its seventh largest.

The report also shows that the US retained its position as Australia’s top collaborator, followed by the UK. Both countries increased their share of collaborations over the period. The US is also New Zealand’s number one partner, followed by Australia and the UK.

Thomson Reuters’ report also highlights the rising influence of another of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India, which appears for the first time among Australia’s top 10 collaborators. The country moved into tenth position, with a 0.8 per cent share of joint research.

“Regional collaboration (within Asia Pacific) is likely to be an increasingly important, even dominant, policy issue for both Australia and New Zealand,” says the report.

“Their research competences complement the technological strength and capacity of China and India…The challenge to the transatlantic research axis keeps on growing.”

Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters, said the new analysis confirmed earlier conclusions from work on China and India that the Asia-Pacific region was becoming “an increasingly integrated research network”.

“Europe and America will want to keep an eye on this,” he said.

Global Research Report: Australia and New Zealand

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