Globalisation of science in kilometres

Waltman L. ; Tijssen R.J.W. ; Eck N.J.v. (2011-10-13)

Article in Press

The ongoing globalisation of science has undisputedly a major impact on how and where scientific research is being conducted nowadays. Yet, the big picture remains blurred. It is largely unknown where this process is heading, and at which rate. Which countries are leading or lagging? Many of its key features are difficult if not impossible to capture in measurements and comparative statistics. Our empirical study measures the extent and growth of scientific globalisation in terms of physical distances between co-authoring researchers. Our analysis, drawing on 21 million research publications across all countries and fields of science, reveals that contemporary science has globalised at a fairly steady rate during recent decades. The average collaboration distance per publication has increased from 334 km in 1980 to 1553 km in 2009. Despite significant differences in globalisation rates across countries and fields of science, we observe a pervasive process in motion, moving towards a truly interconnected global science system. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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