Edition 120 - April 2011

Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century

Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century. The Royal Society, London, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-85403-890-9. Pages: 113.

This latest publication of the Royal Society examines the changing landscape of research and development (R&D) throughout the world and the proliferation of global networks in the scientific community. The report draws attention to the 45% increase in global R&D spending since 2002. In addition, it highlights the steady rise of some BRIC countries in terms of their share of peer-reviewed scientific publications (e.g. China and Brazil), though the US, Western Europe and Japan still spend the most on R&D and account for the most citations in research articles. The report also points out some European countries (i.e. Austria, Greece and Portugal) which have increased their share of such publications.

In regards to measuring global science through publications, the report notes that the use of bibliometric databases does not fully encompass the breadth of research output throughout the world. Moreover, there is a systematic bias against non-English peer-reviewed published research and “grey” literature, which consists of governmental technical reports and white papers, technical reports from NGOs and working papers from research groups and committees. In addition, the methods used to assess research quality and impact are subject to scrutiny in that the number of citations per author is not an accurate measure of quality. The report makes note of the recent change in research funding in the UK, with the introduction of the Research Excellence Framework (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, March 2011), and how a shift emphasising the economic and social impact of research output is being used to determine future research funding in many parts of the world.

The report offers five conclusions and recommendations to strengthen and support international collaborative science, strategise on the national and international level to address global challenges, ensure that the impacts of scientific research are shared globally and to effectively evaluate global science indicators.

The Royal Society

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