UNSW tops Australian universities in 2020 Nature Index

scientists peering into microscope

UNSW Sydney is the highest-ranking Australian institution for its contribution to scientific research.

UNSW Sydney is the highest-ranking institution in Australia for contributions to scientific research in the natural sciences in the 2020 Nature Index.

UNSW ranked first in Australia out of the 42 academic institutions in the country that contributed to high-quality scientific research papers published in the world’s top scientific journals in 2019.

Overall, UNSW climbed three places to 86th from 89th globally last year out of 500 universities and Australia ranked 10th in the world for research output.

Among the four broad subject areas, UNSW ranked first in Australia and 90th in the world for Chemistry and second in the country for both Physical Sciences and Earth & Environmental Sciences. The Nature Index also ranked UNSW 31st in the world on its list of fast-rising academic institutions in the area of Life Sciences.

“Our rise up the Nature Index is a clear pay-off from our ambitious 2025 Strategy, moving from a more modest 106th position just two years ago,” said Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW.

“UNSW’s 5.5% improvement in score over the last year compared to a 0.3% Go8 average is exemplary and validates the excellence and commitment of our academics in this space.”

The Nature Index tracks by institution research published in 82 natural science journals, selected on reputation by an independent panel of leading scientists in their fields. These represent fewer than 5% of the journals covering the natural sciences in Web of Science, but account for close to 30% of total citations. The 2020 tables are based on Nature Index data from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019, and reveal the countries and institutions leading the way in high-quality global science.

Chinese institutions now dominate the Nature Index rankings, claiming four of the top 10 positions on the league table compared to two last year. Chinese predominance is even more pronounced on the overall list of “rising stars”: in the last five years, 84 of the top 100 fastest rising universities have been from China, and just one university outside of China is included in the top 50. No Australian university is listed in the top 100.

Prof. Fisk said UNSW’s collaborative initiatives with Chinese institutions including the Qingdao International Academician Park and the Torch partnership are vital to UNSW’s success as a world-leading research institution.

“The continued rise in the rankings of leading Chinese universities validates UNSW’s focus on quality partnerships and collaborations to pursue top notch discovery science,” Prof. Fisk said.

David Swinbanks, Founder of the Nature Index, said, “The Nature Index Annual Tables show that large, well-funded, well-established institutions continue to perform strongly in terms of high-quality research output in the natural sciences. But we can also see that smaller, younger institutions are very capable of moving quickly to perform extremely well alongside their older, more established peers.”