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Bullet policy · Nov 08, 2021

NSB Report: International Scientific Collaborations Continue to Grow

A new report published by the National Science Board (NSB)—the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF)—suggests that internationally collaborative research continues to grow, with nearly one in four articles having coauthors from multiple countries.

The Publications Output: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons report is among the 10 reports that make up the 2022 Science and Engineering Indicators, a congressionally mandated report on the state of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. According to the report, the United States remains a “highly influential nation” in science and engineering research as measured by the volume of conference papers and peer-reviewed journal articles and the citations to those publications. The report reveals a wide variance in publication rates across different demographic groups in the U.S., with women and people in underrepresented groups being much less likely to publish papers before receiving a doctorate than their white, male counterparts.

Although the rate of scientific papers coming out of the U.S. has grown steadily over time, the publication rates of other countries are growing rapidly. China continues to publish more scientific papers than any other country in the world. In 2020, China produced the most (23 percent) science and engineering publications with the U.S. producing the second most at 16 percent. European Union countries, taken together, produced 24 percent of the world’s research publications.

The report suggests that U.S. researchers have increased international collaboration over the last 15 years. “Collaborating with researchers internationally is an essential part of how we advance science, attract talent from around the world, and avoid being technologically surprised,” said Alan Stern, NSB member and Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute. Notably, authors based in Chinese institutions are the most frequent coauthors with authors based in U.S. institutions. “These numbers show that China is both a chief collaborator and a competitor with the United States,” said Stern. “Policymakers should be cognizant of this information as we work to balance scientific collaboration with safeguarding research that could impact U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.”

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