International Collaboration

The percentage of worldwide S&E articles produced with international collaboration—that is, by authors from universities and research institutions in at least two countries—rose from 17% to 23% between 2008 and 2018 (Table S5a-32). International connections among researchers indicate the expanding research capabilities around the world. Researchers collaborate for a number of reasons including access to a desirable collaborator; access to costly or shared equipment; or conditions attached to research funding that require international collaboration (Wagner 2018). S&E research has steadily become more global over the past decade, which can be measured by examining coauthorships on peer-reviewed articles (Glänzel and Schubert 2005; Royal Society 2011). International collaborations have been shown to increase the impact of research, as measured by citations (Sugimoto et al. 2017). Domestic collaboration, between academic, government, and industry, also receive higher citation rates (see forthcoming Indicators 2020 report “Invention, Knowledge Transfer, and Innovation,” section Business Collaboration in Peer-Reviewed Publications).

Among the 15 largest producers of S&E scholarly articles in 2018, most have high rates of international collaboration: the UK (62%), Australia (60%), France (59%), Canada (56%), Germany (53%), Spain (53%), and Italy (50%) (Figure 5a-7). The United States has a collaboration rate of 39%, slightly below the average collaboration rate for the largest 15 producers (41%).

International coauthorship of S&E articles, for the 15 largest producing countries of S&E articles by country: 2018

Note(s):

Articles refer to publications from a selection of journals and conference proceedings in S&E from Scopus. Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a whole-count basis (i.e., each collaborating country or economy is credited with one count). Articles without international coauthorship are counts of articles with one or more institutional addresses all within a single region, country, or economy, which include single-author articles and articles coauthored under the same institutional address. International articles are articles with institutional addresses from more than one country or economy. The numbers of articles from the "international collaboration" and "domestic author(s) only" categories may not sum to the total article number because some coauthored publications having incomplete address information in the Scopus database. Those often cannot be reliably identified as international or domestic collaborations. For this reason, they are not included in either subcategory but are still counted towards the total number of articles. For more detail see Table S5a-32.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed June 2019.

Science and Engineering Indicators

Beyond the 15 largest producers, in 2018 collaboration rates vary widely: Saudi Arabia (75%), Switzerland (72%), and Belgium (71%) have relatively high collaboration rates whereas those with relatively low rates include India (18%), China (22%), and Russia (23%) (Table S5a-32). U.S. authors collaborated with at least one international peer on 39% of articles in 2018 compared to 27% in 2008 (Table S5a-32). Countries in the EU show high collaboration rates by virtue of their size, geographic proximity, and political support for cross-country collaboration (Wagner 2018). Germany, France, and the UK collaborate on over half of their articles; collaborations for these three countries increased from around 40% of their publications involving international collaboration in 2008 to over 50% in 2018 (Figure 5a-7 and Table S5a-32).

In 2018, U.S. authors collaborated most frequently with authors from China. In 1996, the United States’ largest collaboration country was the United Kingdom (13%) (Table S5a-33). In comparison, researchers in China collaborated on about 26% of U.S. internationally coauthored articles in 2018 (Table 5a-2). China’s rapidly growing scientific and technological capabilities, such as rising R&D spending and university degree awards, likely contributed to this high rate of collaboration. Another possible factor may be the educational ties between the two countries: China is the largest foreign country of origin for international U.S. S&E doctorate recipients (Figure 2-17). U.S. authors also had substantial collaboration with authors from the UK (13%), Germany (11%), and Canada (10%) (Table 5a-2). Authors from China (44%), South Korea (44%), and Canada (43%) have notably high collaboration rates with U.S. authors as indicated by the share of these countries’ international articles with a U.S. author (Table 5a-2).

International coauthorship of S&E articles with the United States, by world and selected country: 2018

(Percent)

na = not applicable.

Note(s):

Articles refer to publications from a selection of journals and conference proceedings in S&E from Scopus. Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a whole-count basis (i.e., each collaborating country or economy is credited with one count). Articles with international institutions are counts of articles with institutional addresses from more than one country or economy. See Table S5a-33.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed June 2019.

Science and Engineering Indicators

International collaboration can also be compared using an index. This provides another method for comparing across countries and time, while reducing the effects of country size (He 2009). The index is obtained by dividing a country’s share of collaboration with another country by its overall share of international collaborations with all countries. The index measures the relative strength of collaborative ties between two countries. An index of 1.0 occurs when coauthorship between two countries is exactly proportional to their overall shares of international collaborations. Index values above 1.0 indicate stronger ties, while scores below 1.0 indicate weaker collaborative ties. The index of internationally coauthored S&E publications increased between the United States and most other major research countries from 1996 to 2018, with the exceptions of South Korea (1.4 to 1.2), Japan (1.0 to 0.9), and India (0.9 to 0.8) (Figure 5a-8). The international collaboration index can also be used to understand the strength of partnerships between countries and regions (NSB Indicators 2018: Coauthorship and Collaboration in S&E Literature).

U.S. indexes of internationally coauthored S&E publications with other large-producing countries: 1996 and 2018

Note(s):

Article counts for computing the index refer to publications from a selection of journals and conference proceedings in S&E from Scopus. Articles are classified by their year of publication and are assigned to a region, country, or economy on the basis of the institutional address(es) of the author(s) listed in the article. Articles are credited on a whole-count basis (i.e., each collaborating region, country, or economy is credited with one count). Regions, countries, or economies that have contributed to less than 1% of all internationally coauthored articles in 2018 are omitted. The index of collaboration is calculated as follows: ICxy = (Cxy/Cx)/(Cy/Cw), where ICxy is the index of collaboration between country x and country y, Cxy is the number of papers coauthored between country x and country y, Cx is the total number of international coauthorships by country x, Cy is the total number of international coauthorships by country y, and Cw is the total number of international coauthorships in the database. For additional countries see Table S5a-34.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation; Science-Metrix; Elsevier, Scopus abstract and citation database, accessed June 2019.

Science and Engineering Indicators