The Gap Between European Research Policies and Researcher Initiated Collaborations
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The tendency to collaborate outside national borders has been present since the early days of modern science (Sörlin, 2004) but in the last decade, a number of studies have indicated an increase of international collaborations (National Science Foundation, 2007; Glänzel, 2001; Adams, et al., 2005). This is reflected in the increasing number and size of research funding programmes and among both the scientific community as well as among policy makers (Hagedoorn et al., 2000). National funding bodies rarely finances entire international collaboration networks, but rather supports the researchers based in the home country. One way for national governments to support international collaborations are through bilateral agreements between two countries. The administrative burden of the involvement of several countries is often too big for an individual funding organisation. Multilateral collaborations, involving several countries, are therefore more likely to result from global activities. In Europe, the main source of funding financing cross-border multilateral collaborations comes from "top-down" initiatives supported by the European Commission. The focus in this study will be upon the main instrument targeting these collaborations, the Framework Programmes (FPs). The FPs are conducted in a "top-down" style, even though there is often a consultative "expression of interest" process for researchers preceding the final call for proposal. Since 2000, much attention has been put into the implementation of a European Research Area (ERA), launched in 2000. In the policy document, Towards a European research area, the European Council called for "better integrated research activities at Union level" where cultural, geographic and linguistic proximity does not play an influential factor (European Commission, 2000). The majority of efforts supporting the ERA have been integrated in the already existed framework programmes. FP projects have a number of non-scientific characteristics, which of two will be further addressed in this study 1. Funding is restricted to EU member states, candidate- and accessing countries 2. Projects require participants from several member states (multilateral collaborations). In this paper we investigate whether the structure of these "top-down" policies aimed for increasing international life science collaborations is reflected in overall "bottom-up" initiated collaborations. The principal hypothesis is that European countries international collaborations will mainly take place within Europe since the majority of funding targeting international collaborations is limited to intra-European countries. We are using publications to study the overall collaboration pattern. The argument is approached by investigate both FP and publication data along the line of bilateral vs. multilateral collaborations, European vs. Global collaborations, and preferential collaborations among European countries. Analytical framework The data was gathered from the Science Citation Index (SCI) of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), both articles and notes were taken into account. Eighteen EU member states accounting for 99 % of the total EU-25 publication production, were included. Two separate datasets were studied, one covering the years 1995-1997 (before ERA), and one covering the years 2003-2005, when the ERA concept had already been introduced. This study is focused on the field of life sciences and we have therefore included the fields of Fundamental biology and Medicine according to the classification of OST (Zitt and Teixeira, 1996). The bilateral and multilateral co-authorship pattern (of the selected 18 countries with all EU countries including candidate and accessing countries) and the global co-authorships pattern (both European and other countries appear in the address) were studied. Intra-national and single/authored papers are not analysed in this article since the aim is study international collaborations. The information regarding the Framework Programmes (FP4, FP5, FP6) was collected from CORDIS. Only projects belonging to programmes focusing on Life sciences were included. Life sciences has been a prioritised thematic area in all framework programmes. The programmes are targeting both fundamental and more applied research. Results and concluding remarks Both multilateral and bilateral international co-authorship have increased over the last decade. Multilateral co-authorship has increased more than bilateral in all studied countries. It is not surprising that international "bottom-up" collaborations are more likely to be carried out on a bilateral level since the majority of funding is coming from national sources. It could also be concluded that bilateral co-authorship is dominating European "bottom-up" collaborations measured by co-authorship. According to the CORDIS database the number of projects related to life sciences in FP6 involving non-European countries is few. Analysing co-authorship data showed the opposite, that researchers are acting in favour of globalised multilateral co-authorship rather than purely European. The results of Wagner and Leydesdorff (2005) support this argument where growth in international collaborations can be explained by the self interest of individual researchers rather than by structural, institutional or policy-related factors. We could also discern European clusters and preferential partners, both in co-authorship as well as in FPs. Since the majority of preferential partnership takes place on a bilateral co-authorship level the role of national bilateral agreements should be highlighted. From a European perspective these initiatives are not in accordance with the ERA objectives of "better integrated research activities at Union level" since they support formation of clusters. Also in the outline of ERA the EC highlighted the importance of a greater concerted S&T cooperation with the rest of the world. As already has been reflected upon this is not visible in the existing FPs. Maybe it is time for existing European programmes to open-up and support and also finance global collaborations. Taking into account that the majority of existing global activities have been initiated by non-European countries there is a room to fill for European funding bodies. References Sörlin, S., 2004. Europas idehistoria. 1492-1918. Natur och Kultur. Sverige. National Science Foundation, 2007. Asia's Rising Science and Technology Strength: Comparative Indicators for Asia, the European Union, and the United States. NSF 07-319. Arlington, VA. Glänzel, W., 2001. National characteristics in international scientific co-authorship relations. Scientometrics 51 (1), 69-115. Adams, J.D., Black, G.C., Clemmons, J.R., Stephan, P.E., 2005. Scientific teams and institutional collaborations: Evidence from U.S. universities. 1981-1999. Research Policy 34 (3), 259-285. Hagedoorn, J., Link, A.N., Vonortas, N.S., 2000. Research partnership. Research Policy 29 (4-5), 567-586. European Commission, 2000. Towards a European Research Area, Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Brussels, COM (2000) 6. Zitt, M., and Teixeira, N., 1996. Science macro-indicators: Some aspects of OST experience. Scientometrics 35 (2), 209-222. Leydesdorff, L., 2000. Is the European Union becoming a single publication system? Scientometrics 47 (2), 265-280.