What science are New Zealanders working on? To help me answer this question, I have an intern from MIT here for her summer break. Luckily for me, she hadn’t heard about Wellington’s winter. (Not that our spring or summer are up to much either, although we can put on a decent autumn.)
She is a very bright cookie, and she mastered the ISI bibliometric database and our network analysis software in no time at all. She is mainly studying the bibliometric performance of the Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs), but she has found time to look into other aspects of New Zealand’s bibliometric record.
Inspired by visualisations of the Twitter universe (such as trendsmap), last week we produced a ’tag cloud’ of subject areas Kiwis are publishing in across the main centres. We picked the top five ISI subject areas in each of the main centres, scaling the text by how often it occurred (i.e. by the total volume of papers published in each subject area). The 2009 cloud is shown below:
In Auckland and Dunedin, pharmacology dominates, presumably due to their university medical schools. In Christchurch and Hamilton, environmental science dominates; in Wellington, it is marine biology; and in Palmerston North, it is veterinary science.
The map clearly shows New Zealand’s strong specialisation in health sciences, the environment, and food and agriculture. As I pointed out in a previous post, the proportion of articles that Kiwis publish in the health sciences is similar to the rest of the world. Where we differ from the international norm is the high priority we give agricultural and environmental science and the low priority we assign to the physical sciences.