What does industry contribute to the world's best research?

19 May 2016

Andor Bujdoso/ Alamy Stock Photo

The Nature Index tracks corporations who publish in top journals.

From Australia and Japan to Poland and China, governments across the world continue to promote collaborations between academics and private industry. As well as the obvious potential benefits of such partnerships: cutting-edge devices, drugs, innovations and spin-off companies that stimulate economies, governments are also hopeful that collaborations with industry may lead to solutions for some of society's greatest challenges. In the face of increasing economic pressure, money put up by private industry for research can also make up the shortfall when cash-strapped governments chose not to increase R&D spending.

While publishing in peer-reviewed journals is often not the sole goal of industry partnerships with academia, many corporates see benefits in publishing their research. The tech giant, IBM, which topped the Nature Index's list of corporation contributing to high-quality research in 2015 is one such company. In a recent Index post, the company's spokeswoman, Kirsten Graham, said the company placed a high value on its employees publishing in peer-reviewed journals. “Publishing makes up a large part of the annual review of our scientists and is a factor in their career development,” she said.

The company uses an internal ‘impact factor’ statistic that measures their scientists' performance in a given year. “IBM Research is dedicated not only to fundamental research, but to exploring and creating innovative industry and client-oriented solutions based on key areas, including cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, security and privacy, Internet of Things, data-centric systems, next-generation silicon technology, brain-inspired devices and infrastructure and advanced analytics,” said Graham.

The graph below shows the total contribution of industry to articles published in 68 top-tier natural science journals between 2012 and 2015.


Research Highlights of partners

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