Survey of 1,286 researchers underlines the importance of international collaboration and mobility in science and engineering
Having the freedom to move internationally and pursue collaborations in other countries is essential for good research and innovation, according to a survey of fellows and grant recipients of the UK’s four national academies, the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society.
In the face of impending Brexit, the academies commissioned a qualitative and quantitative study of their members and grant recipients to better understand their international collaborations and mobility.
In total, 1,286 of the UK’s leading researchers, including 762 fellows and 524 grant recipients across the four national academies, were surveyed.
Key findings include:
• Europe was reported to be the most likely continent in which respondents travelled (95 per cent) and collaborated with other researchers in (87 per cent)
• 58 per cent of respondents said they had spent a year or more working abroad, 64 per cent had spent this time in North America
• 95 per cent said they had been part of at least one international collaboration in the past five years
• 77 per cent said international collaboration is more common now than 20 years ago
Motivations to pursue international collaborations included contributing expertise (73 per cent), a desire to build or maintain links with researchers based overseas (66 per cent) and accessing expertise (54 per cent).
“Engineering has a particularly mobile workforce; this is true in both industry and academia, and across all skills levels,” said Ann Dowling, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Maintaining the ability to collaborate internationally is fundamental to UK engineering, she said.