International Collaborative Situations in Nanoscience Publications

Cooperation in science and technology, especially in new emerging technology, is a key element in national science and innovation systems and is vital in supporting economic growth. Statnano recently investigated on international collaboration among countries in nanotechnology. The results showed while China ranks first and USA second in production of nanoscience, their international collaboration rate are among the lowest in the world. Saudi Arabia, Austria and Ireland have most collaboration among countries published more than 500 nano-articles in 2012.

Nanoscience research has emerged as a monumental scientific endeavor worldwide. Over the past decade, world’s nanotechnology publication activity has grown exponentially at an annual rate of about 10%. International collaboration plays a major role in this research advance because it provides access to a wider range of facilities and resources and enables researchers to participate in networks of cutting-edge and innovative activity. For researchers, collaboration provides opportunities to move further and faster by working with other leading people in their field. It is therefore unsurprising that collaborative research is also identified as contributing to some of the highest impact activity. It is a rapidly growing component of core research activity for all countries. Statnano explores these nanotechnology collaboration patterns and collaborators’ performance through bibliometric data and an indicator so called "share of international collaboration in nanoscience generation" to draw policy implications for promoting further research.

The share of international collaboration in nanoscience generationis defined as share of joint nano-articles published between one country and the others. The indicator is one of the main tools to evaluate international partnerships in nano-related publications production.

A well defined search string were used in Web of Science to extract the indicator for countries in 2012. The results show the USA is a strongly dominant partner thanks to its well equipped and prestigious research centers and universities.


Figure1: 5 top countries in international collaboration and their nano-publication volumes in 2012

Figure 1 gives Saudi Arabia, Austria, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium have most collaboration among countries published more than 500 nano-articles in 2012. As can be seen in figure 2, China, USA, Germany, South Korea and Japan are countries which published most nano-articles in 2012. Their collaboration is shown separately.


Figure2: 5 top countries in nano-publication production and their collaborative output in 2012

According to the results, geographical proximity evidently does play a key role so that it determines which countries are more suitable for collaboration. In other words there many countries in each continent which are pioneer in nanotechnology area. The countries are second choice, after USA, for collaboration. For instance Japan and China, two developed countries in Asia, are second and third choice for Asian countries.

Table 1: 30 top countries which published most nano-articles in 2012 and their international collaboration shares

CountryNano Publication in 2012Share of international collaboration in nanoscience generation
4kr.pngSouth Korea680430.9
25sa.pngSaudi Arabia91078.7

Neighboring Countries have many motivations to collaborate in developing science and technology. A clear example is Azerbaijan which chose Iran, south neighborhood of Azerbaijan, for collaboration. That is true for New Zealand which chose Australia to collaboration over other countries.

There are a few other reasons why a country prefers a specific country for partnership. Most of African countries selected French organizations as their partner for nanotechnology researches due to historical background between France and African countries.

Top 30 countries by nanopublication and share of international collaboration in nanoscience generation in 2012, are listed in table 1. Based on Statnano, the countries account for 82 percent of nanopublication generation in 2012. While China ranks first and USA second in the world in the list, their international collaboration rate are among the lowest in the world so that China's international collaboration rate ranks 93th (19.7%), the USA 83th (41.1%) and South Korea 88th (30.9). Iran has least collaboration rate among the listed countries. What appears at first sight is countries with highest nanopublication have less tend to collaboration while developing countries have more tendency toward international collaboration due to advantage gained through the collaboration. It is evident that some of the incentives to research collaboration lie beyond short-term gains in research performance. It is reasonable to assume that for developing countries, not all added values can be measured by bibliometrics, which focus solely on a metric related to publication quality. Other gains include access to knowledge and facilities and the establishment of a longer-term relationship. For the countries, collaboration also offers the experience of working in and managing international links.

Statnano believes collaborative links with other countries now provide equal or greater benefit to the developing countries compared to that gained by pioneer countries.


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