Globalizing research: forces, patterns, and collaborative practices

The de-nationalization of research, and the creation of bi-lateral, interregional, and global frameworks for research cooperation, is increasingly becoming an object of desire, discussion, debate, and study.

The overall drive to encourage the de-nationalization of research, and create novel outward-oriented frameworks, has many underlying motives, some framed by scientific logics, and some framed by broader agendas.

Scientific logics include a sense that collaboration across borders generates more innovative research outcomes, higher citation impacts (see, for example, the Evidence Ltd., report below), and enhanced capacity to address ‘global challenges’.

Broader agenda logics include a desire to forge linkages with sites of relatively stronger research capacity and/or funding resources, to create and ideally repatriate expatriate researchers, to boost knowledge economies, to elevate status on the global research landscape, and to engage in scientific diplomacy. On this latter point, and with reference to our 16 June entry ‘Surveying US dominance in science and technology for the Secretary of Defense‘), see last week’s EurActiv profile of the new US Center for Science Diplomacy.

Over the next several months we intend on profiling various aspects of this topic in GlobalHigherEd. The early autumn will see, for example, the emergence of a formal Communication (in EU parlance) that outlines a strategic framework on the “coordination of international science and technology cooperation”. This Communication, and some associated reports, are currently being put together by officials at the Directorate-General for Research (DG Research) in Brussels. Meanwhile, down in Paris, the OECD’s Global Science Forum is sponsoring a variety of initiatives (and associated publications) that seek to “identify and maximise opportunities for international co-operation in basic scientific research” in OECD member countries.

Today’s entry is a very basic one: it simply provides links to some of the most recent reports that outline the nature and/or impact of international cooperation in research and development (R&D).

If any of you have recommendations for additional reports, especially those focused on non US and UK contexts, or fields (especially the humanities and social sciences) often absent from such reports, please let me know <> and I will add them to the list.

It is worth noting that some reports focus on academic R&D, while others focus on other producers of R&D (primarily the private sector). Both foci are included as focused reports often include broad relevant data, because of the emerging global agenda to bring together universities and the private sector (via the foment of university-industry linkages, for good and for bad), and because we recognize that the proportion of R&D conducted by academics versus the private sector or non-profit labs varies across time and space (e.g., see one proxy measure – academic versus total national output of patents from 2003-2007 within 10+ countries – here).

I/we are very wary that this is but a start in compiling a comprehensive list. The geographies of these reports is hardly global, as well. This said, the globalizing aspects of these uneven research geographies are undoubtedly fascinating, and full of implications for the evolution of research agendas and practices in the future.

2008 Reports

CREST (2008) Facing the Challenges of Globalisation: Approaches to a Proactive International Policy in S&T, Summary Report, Brussels, January.

Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills (2008) International Research Collaboration in UK Higher Education Institutions, DIUS Research Report 08 08, London.

European Commission (2008) Opening to the World: International Cooperation in Science and Technology, Report of the ERA Expert Group, Brussels, July.

Committee on International Collaborations in Social and Behavioral Sciences Research, U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science, National Research Council (2008) International Collaborations in Behavioral and Social Sciences Research:  Report of a Workshop, Washington, DC: National Academies.

National Science Board (2008) International Science and Engineering Partnerships: A Priority for U.S. Foreign Policy and Our Nation’s Innovation Enterprise, Washington, DC, February.

National Science Board (2008) Research and Development: Essential Foundation for U.S. Competitiveness in a Global Economy, Arlington, VA (NSB 08-03), January.

National Science Board (2008) National Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, Arlington, VA (NSB 08-01; NSB 08-01A), January

OECD (2008) The Internationalisation of Business R&D: Evidence, Impacts and Implications, Paris: OECD.

Universities UK (2008) International Research Collaboration: Opportunities for the UK Higher Education Sector, Research Report, London, May.

2007 and Earlier Reports

CREST Working Group (2007) Policy Approaches towards S&T Cooperation with Third Countries, Analytical Report, Brussels, December.

European Commission (2007) Europe in the Global Research Landscape, Brussels: European Commission.

Evidence, Ltd. (2007), Patterns of International Collaboration for the UK and Leading Partners, Summary Report, A report commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation, London, June.

OECD (2007) OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2007: Innovation and Performance in the Global Economy, Paris: OECD.

UNCTAD (2005) World Investment Report 2005: Transnational Corporations and the Internationalization of R&D, New York and Geneva: United Nations.

Kris Olds

Note: Thanks to Jonathan Adams (Evidence, Ltd.), Mary Kavanagh (European Commission), and Kathryn Sullivan (National Science Foundation) for their advice.