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Otago’s oceanography research excels


Wednesday 11 May 2011 12:05pm

Tunnel of a wave

A new analysis of scientific articles published in international journals since 2000 has judged the University of Otago as being amongst the best research institutions in the world for oceanography.

After analysing the top one percent of oceanography-related papers published in journals since that year, the UK Times Higher Education magazine ranked Otago as the institution with the highest average citations per paper in the world. The second placed institution was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The Otago researchers’ 11 highly cited papers were referenced an average of 148 times by members of the international research community in subsequently published research. The average number of citations for the 387 papers identified in the top one percent was around 91.

In the analysis, oceanography was defined as encompassing many specific disciplines and their journals, including marine biology, limnology (study of inland waters), fisheries science, ecology and geophysics. Papers published in multidisciplinary journals such as Science and Nature relating to the discipline were also included.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences) Professor Keith Hunter says that while caution is required against reading too much into individual ranking exercises and their particular measures, the University’s result confirms the high quality and influential nature of oceanography-related research carried out at Otago.

“Oceanography and its allied fields lie at the heart of many attempts to better understand the past, present and future of life on our planet. To be counted amongst some of the world’s leading institutions in this regard highlights the international contributions Otago researchers are making in tackling key questions in these areas. It also reflects the extensive collaboration that the Otago group has with overseas research institutions, including several others in the top 30 list,” Professor Hunter says.

He says the achievement is the result of a team effort, with many University staff from across several departments, and collaborators at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), all contributing.

“However, special recognition should go to Professor Philip Boyd of the NIWA University of Otago Centre for Chemical and Physical Oceanography, who was the lead author on many of the articles contributing to the citations received and who provided the inspiration for much of the work.”

The list of the top 30 research institutions in oceanography, which also includes NIWA, can be viewed on the Times Higher Education website.

For more information, contact

Professor Keith Hunter
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences)
Tel 64 3 479 7917

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