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About the Royal Society

What next for international science?

16 February 2010

A major new study, which will map and analyse where, why, how and by whom science is being carried out around the world and how this is changing, will be undertaken this year by the Royal Society, and published in November.  In particular, the study will look at how international networks of collaboration are changing the way in which scientific research is conducted and funded, and why this is important.

The results of the study will inform global decision makers in science, business, NGOs and government by addressing some of the most significant questions facing science today, including:

  • What opportunities and challenges do changes in global science pose for scientists and policymakers?
  • How can international collaboration in science be used most effectively to tackle global challenges like climate change?
  • How will the increased engagement in science of emerging economies alter global priorities for future research?
  • How do we measure the impact and success of international research collaboration?

The study will analyse publication data as well as consulting with UK and international scientists, research communities and other organisations including partner academies, government representatives and scientific networks.  It will be undertaken in partnership with Elsevier, one of the world’s leading publishers of science and health information, who are providing access to their Scopus abstract and citation database, and their SciVal Spotlight application and other analytical tools.

Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith FRS (Former Director General of CERN, and President of the Council of SESAME), Chair of the Advisory Group, said, "Science knows no boundaries, and scientists have always operated across national frontiers and cultural divides, as can be seen from international correspondence in the Royal Society’s archive dating back three centuries.  However, more countries are investing in building scientific capacity, and international collaboration is growing and its nature is changing.  The web has enabled dispersed real-time collaborations, while scientists have become more mobile and in some fields large user-facilities attract scientists from across the world.

The time has come to assess the changing map of scientific strengths, how collaboration in science and technology - which flourish most effectively when they can draw on the best skills wherever they are located  - is evolving, and how it can best be harnessed to tackle global problems such as the spread of disease, pollution and climate change, which also know no boundaries.”