Report shows strength of our China connections

24 February 2012

Astronomy links: a performance of the University's audio visual show Music and the Cosmos in Shanghai.
Astronomy links: a performance of the University's audio visual show Music and the Cosmos in Shanghai.

The strength of the University of Sydney's relationship with China has been highlighted in a new report issued by the Minster for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans.

The report, Science and Research Collaboration between Australia and China, shows that the University published more joint papers with China between 2000 and 2009 than any other Australian university - a total of 1396 papers, or 13.2 per cent of the market.

The University of Queensland was second with 1055, and Melbourne third with 828.

Sydney maintained its dominance in 2010, with more than 300 joint papers published.

Almost a quarter of Sydney's joint publications were in physics and astronomy. Materials science, engineering and medicine also featured prominently.

In terms of citations, economics and finance had the highest impact, with an average of more than 13 citations per paper between 2000 and 2009.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said: "The report continues the trend seen in the 2009 Thompson Reuters Global Research Report, which placed Sydney fifth in the world for joint scientific publications with China.

"It's particularly pleasing to note that our engagement with China spreads across so many disciplines and continues to expand so vigorously. It underlines the strength of our commitment to deepen our engagement with China and the best Chinese universities."

The report notes that the total number of joint publications between Australia and China grew 20-fold in the period 1996 to 2009, rising from 114 to 2,295.

The focus of joint research also fluctuated over time. Medicine was the University of Sydney's leading source of joint publications in 2000 with a 23.9 per cent share; it declined to seventh on the list with only 4.9 per cent in 2006 before rising again to second in 2009. Materials science rose from eighth place in 2000 to third in 2009.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor International Professor John Hearn said: "Results like this do not happen by accident - they are the result of meticulous planning and sustained effort over many years."

The new report has been prepared by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education to help decision-makers plan future engagement with China.

It welcomes the opening of the China Studies Centrelast year as an example of the University's commitment to making engagement with China a top priority.

The report states that collaboration in science and research brings benefits beyond the academic sphere, including improved cross-cultural understanding, personal and institutional linkages, and increased capacity of economies to absorb and utilise innovations from abroad.

It suggests that there is great potential for researchers to expand the application and commercialisation of their research outcomes. "The next frontier for joint engagement is innovation, applying and commercialising the outcomes of research for mutual benefit to the wider communities of both countries and beyond."

The report also recognises the contribution of Professor Wilbur 'Chris' Christiansen, a radio astronomer at the University of Sydney, to the long-term relationship between the countries.

Professor Christiansen visited China in 1963 as a guest of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and after the success of his visit, a number of delegations were organised: the Australian Academy of Science sent a delegation to China, a reciprocal delegation was received in Australia, and a group of Australian scientists attended the 1964 Peking Symposium. His visit also saw the beginning of temporary researcher exchanges. Two Chinese astronomers visited Australia for six months, and Professor Christiansen spent a sabbatical year in China in 1966, assisting with the construction of a radio telescope based on his previous work.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

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