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Latest Nature Index supplement looks at research collaboration trends in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region

Sustainability, climate change and biomedical science are research areas of interest across the APAC countries

London | Sydney | Berlin, 17 March 2021

China is growing in dominance in Asia-Pacific collaborations, according to the Nature Index 2021 Asia Pacific supplement, published today. The supplement draws on Nature Index data to track trends in research output and collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region. The strongest partnership in the region is between Australia and China, however among leading APAC countries India has the fastest-growing research relationship with China, with an increase of 261 percent in Collaboration Score* since 2015. Overall, the United States, Germany and the UK remain important collaboration partners for Asia Pacific but their partnerships in the region are neither as large nor growing as fast as those of the region with China. The US-China research partnership has grown 56 percent since 2015 – a larger increase than for the US with other leading research countries of APAC.

In terms of output, the Asia-Pacific region’s Share of global output tracked by the Nature Index has grown from 26.9 percent to 34.3 percent since 2015, with China responsible for more than 98 percent of the increase. Without China, the region’s share of output would have declined slightly, in part due to the 2015-2020 slide in Japan’s contribution. Other countries in the region are also showing an increase in research output. The APAC Rising Countries list (available online) places Vietnam and Thailand second and third in terms of output tracked by the Nature Index following China. The top three APAC institutions according to Nature Index data from 2020 are the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Science and Technology of China and The University of Tokyo.

In addition to trends in research output and collaboration, the supplement explores important areas of research for the region such as climate change and sustainability, and lists the most influential institutions. The supplement also examines how the pandemic has driven India’s quest for greater scientific self-sufficiency through the search for indigenous Covid-19 vaccines. Furthermore, it explores innovations developed in the region such as novel magnetic and superconducting properties of materials developed by researchers from Japan and South Korea.  

David Swinbanks, Founder of the Nature Index, said: “Research output in the APAC region is growing rapidly -- faster than any other region in the world -- and this trend is largely due to China’s significant contribution. The latest Nature Index supplement also shows that collaboration within and with the region is strong and growing. Australia and China show the strongest collaboration within APAC according to the Nature Index, which is interesting given the current geopolitical situation. Going forward, collaborations on a regional scale have an enormous role to play in solving issues important for local populations such as sea level rise.”

Note: The Nature Index is one indicator of institutional research performance. The metrics of Count and Share used to order Nature Index listings are based on an institution’s or country/territory's publication output in 82 natural science journals, selected on reputation by an independent panel of leading scientists in their fields. The Nature Index recognises that many other factors must be taken into account when considering research quality and institutional performance; Nature Index metrics alone should not be used to assess institutions or individuals. Nature Index data and methods are transparent and available under a creative commons license at natureindex.com.
*The Collaboration Score (CS) is calculated by adding each partner’s Share in their joint articles.

Further Information

The Nature Index Asia-Pacific supplement is available here.

About the Nature Index

The Nature Index is a database of author affiliations and institutional relationships. The index tracks contributions to research articles published in 82 high-quality natural science journals, chosen by an independent group of researchers.

The Nature Index provides absolute and fractional counts of article publication at the institutional and national level and, as such, is an indicator of global high-quality research output and collaboration. Data in the Nature Index are updated regularly, with the most recent 12 months made available under a Creative Commons licence at natureindex.com. The database is compiled by Nature Research, part of Springer Nature.

Nature Index metrics

The Nature Index uses Count and Share to track research output. A country/region or an institution is given a Count of 1 for each article that has at least one author from that country/region or institution. This is the case regardless of the number of authors an article has, and it means that the same article can contribute to the Count of multiple countries/regions or institutions.

To glean a country’s, a region’s or an institution’s contribution to an article, and to ensure they are not counted more than once, the Nature Index uses Share, a fractional count that takes into account the share of authorship on each article. The total Share available per article is 1, which is shared among all authors under the assumption that each contributed equally. For instance, an article with 10 authors means that each author receives a Share of 0.1. For authors who are affiliated with more than one institution, the author’s Share is then split equally between each institution. The total Share for an institution is calculated by summing the Share for individual affiliated authors. The process is similar for countries/regions, although complicated by the fact that some institutions have overseas labs that will be counted towards host country/region totals.

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