28 March 2011
Knowledge, Networks and Nations surveys the global scientific landscape in 2011, noting the shift to an increasingly multipolar world underpinned by the rise of new scientific powers such as China, India and Brazil; as well as the emergence of scientific nations in the Middle East, South-East Asia and North Africa. The scientific world is also becoming more interconnected, with international collaboration on the rise. Over a third of all articles published in international journals are internationally collaborative, up from a quarter 15 years ago.
Collaboration is increasing for a variety of reasons. Enabling factors such as advances in communication technology and cheaper travel have played a part, but the primary driver of most collaboration is individual scientists. In seeking to work with the best of their peers and to gain access to complementary resources, equipment and knowledge, researchers fundamentally enhance the quality and improve the efficiency of their work.
Today collaboration has never been more important. With human society facing a number of wide-ranging and interlinked ‘global challenges’ such as climate change, food security, energy security and infectious disease, international scientific collaboration is essential if we are to have any chance of addressing the causes, or dealing with the impacts, of these problems. Through a few selected case studies, we examine the achievements of some of the current efforts to tackle these challenges, discuss problems they have faced, and highlight important lessons their experience has to offer similar initiatives.
The report makes 5 major recommendations:
- Support for international science should be maintained and strengthened
- Internationally collaborative science should be encouraged, supported and facilitated
- National and international strategies for science are required to address global challenges
- International capacity building is crucial to ensure that the impacts of scientific research are shared globally
- Better indicators are required in order to properly evaluate global science