PHILADELPHIA, June 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- If the UK chooses to exit the Union (EU) it will affect the mobility of UK-based scientists and their collaborations. That's the finding of a new study published by the Royal Society, the UK's independent scientific academy, entitled UK Research and the European Union: The Role of the EU in Researcher Collaboration and Mobility. The Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters was commissioned to provide supporting data and analysis for the study, contributing detailed information on global trends in collaboration and mobility from its Web of Science® platform.
On June 23, 2016, a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the EU will be held, potentially resulting in the country's exit from the EU. Colloquially referred to as a 'Brexit,' the decision could have a major impact on both the UK and the EU, with a number of studies projecting potential economic impacts of that decision. The purpose of the Royal Society's new study is to gather evidence about the influence of the EU on scientific research collaboration, and mobility in order to inform debate. A previous study examined the role of the EU in funding UK research, bringing together the most up to date facts and figures about the finances and a third study, also published, examines the influence of the EU on regulation and policy that governs UK research.
"Almost 40 percent of the 1.6 million research papers published by UK authors between 2005 and 2014 were internationally co-authored and EU Member States are 7 of the UK's top ten strongest collaborators. The data shows us that UK papers acknowledging any type of EU funding have more impact than the average paper, and where that funding comes from the ERC in particular, papers have the highest impact of all," said Becky Purvis, Head of Public Affairs at the Royal Society. "By teaming with Thomson Reuters, we have some concrete numbers to better understand the role of the EU in these collaborations. We hope our reports will be a useful guide for anyone who wants to understand the role of the EU in the UK research landscape."
Among the key findings of the Thomson Reuters analysis conducted for the Royal Society were the following:
- UK Researchers Are Collaborating Internationally More Frequently: Of the 1.6 million research papers published by UK authors between 2005 and 2014, 36.8 percent were internationally co-authored. This compares with roughly 90 percent of UK research papers including only UK authors in 1981. The growth in global collaboration has been accompanied by a 3x surge in total research output over the same period.
- Other EU Countries Most Frequent Collaborative Partners: When normalized by total volume of research output, Germany is the most frequent collaborative partner for UK researchers, followed by France, Italy, and the Netherlands. On an absolute basis, the U.S. is the most frequent collaborator with UK researchers.
- EU funding shows a similar degree of international collaboration (50%) as UK funding (49%), however some EU funding streams result in much higher levels of international co-authorship. 58% of European Research Council (ERC) funded UK papers have international co-authors.
- EU Funding Associated with Higher Impact: For both papers published by UK-only authors and UK-EU co-authored papers, those acknowledging EU funding have more impact than the average paper, and where that funding comes from the ERC in particular, papers have the highest impact of all.
"Major geopolitical decisions like the one currently facing the UK can have significant unintended consequences that affect everything from job growth and GDP to global collaboration on scientific research," said Jessica Turner, global head of Government & Academia at Thomson Reuters "Only by benchmarking current recent trends in global research activity is it possible to truly understand the potential impact of a political move that could introduce new barriers to international collaboration."
The full study, UK Research and the European Union: The Role of the EU in Researcher Collaboration and Mobility, was published by the Royal Society on Monday 6 June 2016. Scientific literature citation data and analysis in the study was powered by Thomson Reuters Web of Science.
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The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world's most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society's fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.
SOURCE Thomson Reuters IP & Science