Comparative Benchmarking of European and US Research Collaboration and Researcher Mobility

A collaboration between Science Europe and Elsevier's SciVal Analytics

The result of collaboration between Science Europe and Elsevier, this report, 'Comparative Benchmarking of European and US Research Collaboration and Researcher Mobility,’ provides an analysis of European and US research collaboration and researcher mobility patterns, as reflected in the Scopus database. Although the countries of Europe are often grouped together, there is much variance between them and an important issue for European research is the amount of academic collaboration taking place within Europe. This report explores both the extent to which academics collaborate on research papers and the amount of researcher mobility within Europe and beyond, based on author affiliations.

To generate this report, Elsevier's Analytical Services team and Science Europe defined Europe as consisting of 41 countries with direct eligibility for Seventh Framework (FP7) funding and considered these countries of Europe to be analogous to the states of the US. Research collaboration is inferred from the pattern of co-authorship of research outputs indexed in Scopus, while researcher mobility is determined from author institution affiliation records derived from these outputs.

The core findings

Other studies have shown that research nations benefit from collaborative research, in particular international collaborations, as they typically result in higher citation impacts, a quality measure of research articles. This report shows that both Europe and the US have experienced steady growth in their overall collaboration rates since 2003.

Inter-country collaboration in Europe also showed an increase, from slightly over 11% in 2003 to 13% of articles in 2011, contrasting with the recently-decreasing levels seen in analogous inter-state collaboration in the US, at 16% of articles in 2011. Since the percentage for Europe has steadily been rising since 2003, it seems that the national and European mechanisms to encourage cross-country collaboration in Europe are working, although with considerable variation by discipline.

Figure 1: European research collaboration patterns, 2011.
Figure 1: European research collaboration patterns, 2011. Europe and the US show similar inter-country/state collaboration, but whereas the US percentage dropped slightly between 2003 and 2011, Europe''s rose by more than two points. This suggests that the national- and European-level mechanisms to encourage cross-country collaboration in Europe seem to be working.
Figure 1: US research collaboration patterns, 2011.
Figure 2: US research collaboration patterns, 2011. Europe and the US show similar inter-country/state collaboration, but whereas the US percentage dropped slightly between 2003 and 2011, Europe''s rose by more than two points. This suggests that the national- and European-level mechanisms to encourage cross-country collaboration in Europe seem to be working.
Figure 3: European and US researcher mobility classes, 1996–2011 and (right) collaboration patterns, 2007-2011.
Figure 3: European and US researcher mobility classes, 1996–2011 and (right) collaboration patterns, 2007-2011. European researchers are less likely to migrate outside of their country compared to the US, but have similar inter-country/-state collaboration rates. There appear to be barriers to researcher migration within Europe that do not seem to negatively affect research collaboration.

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