How does Australian Museum research compare to that of other international museums?

In 2013, the Australian Museum achieved a quiet first – a listing in the 2013 SCImago Institutions Ranking (SIR), produced by the highly-regarded SCImago Institute in Spain.This listing allows us a greater insight to how Australian Museum research compares to that of Museums around the world- and gives us reason to be proud!

SIR identifies the world’s top research institutions based on the number, range and quality of their publications over a five-year period (the 2013 SIR covered the period 2007-2011). There were 2,744 institutions listed in the 2013 SIR, including universities, government research organisations, private medical foundations, hospitals and six with ‘museum’ in their title – including the Australian Museum.

Comparing the different museums using some of the specific indices in the SIR reveals significant strengths of Australian Museum research over the period 2007-2011.

International collaboration %
This indicates the percentage of papers with at least one author from the Australian Museum plus at least one non-Australian author. The Australian Museum score of 43% indicates the extensive international connections of its researchers and affiliate researchers. While not as high as the figures for prestigious museums in Europe or the USA, it is not far behind. One should also note that the Australian Museum has far fewer researchers than these other institutions (which are often the national museum whereas the Australian Museum is actually a state museum).

The SCImago Institute places journals into one or more subject categories. They are then ranked within each category on the basis of their scientific impact, based on the extent to which they cross-reference each other. The top 25% of journals in a category are placed in Q1 (quartile 1), the next 25% in Q2 and so on. The Q1 thus indicates the top 25% of journals in their fields. An institution’s Q1% is the percentage of all its papers that fall into that top quartile. Nearly half of the Australian Museum’s papers are included, an indication of the high level of the research reported. This is very similar to other top museums.

Normative citations
In this index, all the cross references to papers written by Australian Museum researchers are used. The results are standardised so that the average for all institutions included in the SIR is 1 and each movement of 0.1 above or below the average indicates a shift of 10% in the score relative to the average. The Australian Museum scores 1.25, or 20% above the average - a similar score to the other museums in the 2013 SIR.

The 2013 SIR rankings show that the range, quality and impact of the Australian Museum’s research outputs are amongst the best in the world. The challenge is to maintain our research performance and communicate our scientific research widely, inspiring interest in the natural world and informing decision-makers.

Dr Pat Hutchings
Senior Principal Research Scientist, AMRI

Dr Michael Calver
Associate Professor, Murdoch University