Belgian marine research in 2020, the state of affairs | Compendium Coast and Sea

Belgian marine research in 2020, the state of affairs

Every year, within the framework of the Compendium for Coast and Sea, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) reports on the current state of marine research in Flanders and Belgium in the form of a policy informing brief. Elements such as, the research capacity as well as the scientific output are mapped next to a detailed analysis of the degree of international collaborations, the geographical focus of the research and the use of research vessels.

This latest inventory once again highlights the diversity and productivity of marine research in Belgium. At the reference point (14/10/2020), 117 marine research groups (MOGs) have been identified which annually publish around 600 peer-reviewed publications. A scientific output comparable to that of the major marine institutes in neighbouring countries. Over the past 11 years (2008-2019), these research groups have published in nearly 1,300 different journals and the share of open access journals has increased to more than 54%, compared to 5% in 2008. Most of the Belgian marine research groups are affiliated with Flemish university associations (71) and French-speaking universities and colleges of higher education (32), although the groups of the Flemish and federal scientific institutions generally include a larger number of scientific and technical staff. The expertise of the MOGs is concentrated in the natural sciences (81 MOGs) and the engineering sciences (36 MOGs). Furthermore, the groups are active in no less than 20 research disciplines, which highlights the diverse expertise in the marine research landscape.

Belgian marine research also has a strong international orientation. In almost 80% of its publications, research takes place outside the Belgian part of the North Sea, and in 74% there is international collaboration. Most of this international cooperation takes place with neighbouring countries and the US, but the network of our marine researchers extends to no less than 145 countries. Also, in about 26% of the cases (2008-2019) a (research) vessel was used for data collection, representing a total of 281 different vessels from 43 countries.

With this annual policy information brief (Dutch), VLIZ tries to inform marine and maritime (science) policy, the marine research community and other stakeholders about the characteristics and evolution of marine research in Belgium. An explanation of the replicable methodology used can be found in the brief.

If you are interested in the broader context behind these figures, I refer you to the Indicator Report Marine Research and Innovation 2018 of the Compendium for Coast and Sea 2018 where this exercise was conducted for the 2018 figures.

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