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Global Science Research of International Collaboration

July 9th, 2022

Science research spending around the globe has increased by 45 percent to more than $1,000 billion (one trillion) U.S. dollars since 2002. In 2008, 218 countries generated more than 1.5 million research papers, with contributions ranging from Tuvalu’s one paper to the U.S.’ 320,000 papers. The U.S. leads the world’s production of science research, accounting for 21 percent of publications and nearly $400 billion worth of public and private science R&D. BRIC and other developing countries, including China, India, Brazil and South Korea, account for much of the increase in scientific publications.

Science Research in the BRIC Countries of China, India and Brazil

A study by the U.K.’s Royal Society points out that the BRIC countries, along with South Korea, “are often cited as rising powers in science.” From 2002 to 2007, the China, India and Brazil more than doubled their spending on science research, bringing their collective share of global spending up from 17 to 24 percent.

Engineering is a common focus of science research in China, India and Russia. Scientific fields in which China has developed a leading position include nanotechnology and rare earths. Agriculture and biosciences are two important fields of emphasis in Brazil, which is a leader in biofuels research.

In keeping with their rapid economic development and massive populations, China and India, the world’s first and second most populous countries, produce large and growing numbers of science and engineering graduates each year. In 2006, about 2.5 million students in India and 1.5 million students in China graduated with degrees in science and engineering.

International Collaboration

Today, over 35 percent of science research articles are the result of international collaborations among researchers from different countries, a 40 percent increase from 15 years ago. The number of internationally co-authored papers has more than doubled since 1990.

The U.S., U.K., France and Germany continue to be key hubs of international collaboration in science research. Researchers in other developed and developing countries actively collaborate with scientists from these countries. According to the Royal Society report, “while links between the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have been growing in recent years, they pale in comparison to the volume of collaboration between these individual countries and their partners in the G7.”

International science research often takes the form of regional collaboration. Regional political institutions, including the European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), each have their own research strategies that foster and facilitate regional collaboration in science research.

“South-South Collaboration” between developing countries is a growing form of international science research. The International Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation was inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2008 under the auspices of UNESCO. An initiative of India, Brazil and South Africa promotes South-South cooperation in several arenas, including science and research collaboration in fields such as nanotechnology, oceanography and Antarctic research.