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Collaboration in Science Annual Report

Scientific research is a collaborative effort. See how researchers from around the world worked together to publish papers in 2015.

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Research almost always involves collaboration, especially in scientific fields, and collaboration on scientific techniques, data sharing, and writing papers is only increasing. One way to measure collaboration is to look at the number of co-authors on a paper, which reached an all-time high of 5.48 per paper indexed in PubMed in 2015.

Another way to assess collaboration is to look at the nationalities of co-authors – are there specific countries that tend to author papers together? To address this question, we took at a look at publication data for 2015 in PubMed, which indexes journals from biomedicine and related fields. For the top 25 publishing nations, here are the top ten pairs of collaborating countries, based on author affiliations. While the data behind this analysis are from biomedical fields, we also saw similar trends in data from Scopus, Elsevier’s database of published research from all fields.

  1. US and China (14,853 papers)
  2. US and the United Kingdom (11,384)
  3. US and Germany (8,421)
  4. US and Canada (8,044)
  5. Germany and the United Kingdom (7,955)
  6. US and Italy (5,307)
  7. France and the United Kingdom (5,296)
  8. US and France (5,252)
  9. US and Australia (5,208)
  10. Italy and the United Kingdom (5,160)

To better visualize co-author collaborations for some of the most frequently publishing nations (both traditional research powerhouses and developing research centers), we’ve generated infographics that map the top 10 most frequent collaborations for the United States, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil.

Appropriate collaboration maps are also available in Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese.

Research Collaboration in the US

Research Collaboration - China

Observations about collaboration

Several things stand out about these collaboration webs. For one, several countries appear frequently, with the US, UK, France, Germany, and Canada appearing in the top 10 for all six countries. As expected, there is also some regionality to the top collaborations, with some unique partners showing up for nearby countries: Singapore with China and Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland with Germany.

Finally, the scale of collaboration varied considerably across our sample. For the US, the top collaboration partners involved over 10,000 papers (around 5% of the total publications for the US), while China’s top partners involved around 2,000 papers (1% of total Chinese publications). Germany reached even higher proportionally – over 8,000 collaborations for its top partners (around 12% of total German publications).

Collaboration data

The full data behind our PubMed analysis can be found here, in AJE’s Scholarly Publishing Data and Trends collection on figshare. Feel free to crunch the numbers further – if you find anything else interesting, please let us know!

For more related information, see a list of articles tagged ‘Collaboration.’

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