Researchers without Borders

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Research is becoming internationalized with the acceleration of scientific communication between researchers (on-line journals, virtual communities, co-publications, international conferences) and the increased migration of skilled workers, particularly in the sectors of education, health, and computer science. The exodus of researchers from countries of the South toward developed countries was long considered a catastrophe (brain drain), but today is being partly reassessed in the light of the knowledge and skills transfers taking place when migrants return home occasionally or permanently (brain gain), together with the possibility of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). However, the global skills market operates to the disadvantage of the poorest societies in the South and to the benefit of large global corporations.

The volume of scientific publications doubled between 2000 and 2015, reaching 1.8 million per year. This bibliometric inflation has disrupted the ranking of countries as much as the intrinsic evolution of disciplines. Only three countries with a history of intensive research have maintained their position (United States, United Kingdom, and Germany), while many others have lost ground (Japan, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, Australia, Russia, and the Netherlands) to emerging countries (China, India, South Korea, Brazil, Turkey, and Iran).

The number of co-publications between researchers in different institutions tripled between 2000 and 2015, while the number of publications produced by a single institution tended to stagnate, or even diminish.

International co-publications have also shown evidence of a strong increase, going from 15% to 23% of all publications between 2000 and 2015. International scientific collaboration is most highly developed in physics (particularly particle physics), sciences of the universe, medical research, and fundamental biology because of access to shared research equipment (especially in Europe).

Academic publications in the top 20 countries, 2010-2015

Source: HCERES report 2018,

Comment: The number of academic publications is considered to be an indicator of the dynamism of research among different actors (universities, laboratories, companies, etc.). The curves show the top 20 countries between 2000 and 2015. The United States published the most throughout the period, but China is catching up, increasing its total by 10 in 15 years, so that it is approaching 300,000. The following countries produce substantially less; while the emerging countries (India, Brazil, Iran, etc.) are demonstrating growth that is higher than that of the so-called Northern states.

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" Researchers without Borders " World Atlas of Global Issues, 2018, [online], accessed on Mar 15 2021, URL:

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