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Keywords:

  • New Zealand;
  • ophthalmology;
  • research;
  • research productivity;
  • vision science

Abstract

Aim: To assess New Zealand's research productivity in the area of ophthalmology and vision science over the decade 1993–2002.

Methods: New Zealand-based researchers involved in ophthalmology or vision science research, including ophthalmologists, optometrists and vision scientists were identified via professional colleges, universities and electronic databases. Peer-reviewed publications by these authors were identified by both searching electronic databases (MEDLINE/Pubmed) and personal communication with individual researchers.

Results: Eighty-five New Zealand-based researchers involved in ophthalmology or vision science research published 446 articles in 84 scientific journals during the 10-year period. The cohort consisted of 59 ophthalmologists and 26 other researchers based in a diverse range of ophthalmology, optometry and university departments. Significant collaboration was observed between groups within New Zealand and with international institutions. Comparing ophthalmologists and ‘other’ researchers, ophthalmologists produced 69% of all ophthalmology and vision science research publications and those classified as ‘active ophthalmologist researchers’ published an average of 11 (range 5–55) papers each during this decade, compared to eight (range 5–25) for the group ‘other active researchers’. This was also reflected in the high productivity rate by ophthalmologists of 277 publications per 1000. Publications were identified in a wide range of journals with the majority in top 20-ranked ophthalmology journals. The trend over the decade highlighted an increase in number of scientific publications, from 43 per annum in 1993, to 68 per annum in 2002.

Conclusions: Despite a relatively small and geographically isolated population, New Zealand ophthalmology and vision science research is highly active and collaborative, with significantly increased research productivity during the period 1993–2002. The present study is the first to document these trends and provides strong evidence to justify continued support for ophthalmology and vision science research in New Zealand.