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"a harsh truth needs to be confronted: Australia is a leader in many fields of science, but remains poor at the business of science.it is in this context that we must assess scientists' concerns about the funding of public-sector science,the threat of declining strategic and basic research relative to applied science, and specific issues such as external earning target for CSIRO.

could you please tell me the meaning of the underlined "relative to"in this passage? does it mean "related to" or "comparing to"? how can i know when "relative" means "related" and when it means"comparative"? thank you very much!
Comments  
It means related to or in regard to, and you will have to judge the meaning by the context, just as you must do with many other words. For instance, how do you decide what right means in the following utterances?--

Turn right at the next corner.
Stop right here.
That turn's not right.

thank you! so you mean in this passage "relative to" means "related to" or "regarded to" right? these two meanings of "relative "seem a little more difficult to distinguish than those meanings of "right" you pointed out. next time i will try to associate it with the context to understand it better.
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can anyone give me more advice on this? My teacher hold an opposite opinion on this. he thought "relative”means "comparative" while i think it means "related to". he is a great translator, so i need more opinions cos he might be right. i need to be sure about this. thanx.
I am certain that "relative" means "in comparison" here!

The article argues that if you compare the amount of "basic research" (knowledge and insight) with the amount of "applied research/science" (development with a productive/monetary aspect) you will find that more and more money is spent for applied science rather than basic research. In other words, the ratio of basic research declines -- or basic research declines relative to applied science.

Kajjo
Yes, I agree with Kajjo-- sorry about that-- I was studying the problem of multiple meanings and paying no careful attention to the meaning here! The decline in research in basic science, compared to applied science, as Kajjo points out.
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thank you, guys. got it now.