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New Zealand contributing well to Covid research, report says

Latest national snapshot shows New Zealand’s pandemic research is strong and highly rated

New Zealand’s contribution to global research into the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be strong, with the latest national report showing that the country has contributed 0.4 per cent of the world’s research outputs on the topic, higher than its 0.3 per cent share of all publications.

The report—Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid-19 Research Response—released on 30 August, summarises work done by the nation’s universities and research institutions, as recorded on the national Covid-19 Research Database.

The report, from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, shows how New Zealand’s research organisations responded to the pandemic. About a third of Covid-related research publications were in the fields of public health and health services.

Half of the university activities and publications on the database came from the Universities of Auckland and Otago.

The report says that in 13 out of 15 fields, the publications were in the top 25 per cent of journals.

New Zealand’s research “is particularly strong for marketing and tourism studies, with over 80 per cent of publications being in these highly respected journals. For the fields of clinical sciences and public health, 60 per cent and 66 per cent of articles respectively are in top-ranked journals.”

“Early career researchers continue to be a vital component of our research effort, with 29 per cent of the people authoring Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid-19 research outputs having less than five years of publication experience.”

International collaboration on the topic was higher than the average across all research, at 59 per cent compared with 56 per cent, but collaboration within New Zealand was lower, at 16 per cent compared with 23 per cent.

The report is the second since the pandemic began, with the last being published in July 2020. The higher-than-usual rate of preprint publications on Covid-19 seen in 2020 has since dropped significantly.

According to the ministry, around NZ$400 million in “new and reprioritised funding” went to Covid-19 research and support for the research system in the pandemic’s early stages.

Outcomes recorded so far include an app to promote wellbeing among young people, a new method of modelling of infection risk in indoor spaces, a study of the social connectedness of older people and a study of the genetics of the virus in New Zealand.