Forget ‘brain drain’ – many countries are now focusing their efforts on making the most of ‘brain circulation’, according to a new report on global science from the Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of science.
In a shift away from attempting to stem the flow of talented scientists overseas, countries such as China and India are setting aside resources to attract native scientists back home later in their careers while maintaining their links with host countries.
Many nomadic scientists who remain overseas are also keen to maintain links with their home countries but are unsure where to start, making them an “untapped resource” for international collaboration, according to the report, Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century.
Where brain drain is still a major problem, such as in Africa, governments need to reward talented scientists and enable them to foster global networks while ensuring they also help build national research capacity.
Other highlights of the report include:
• International collaboration is growing, and has a significant effect on a research paper’s impact (see ‘Research sans frontières’ for more)
• In addition to the meteoric rise of China and, to a lesser extent, Brazil and India, other rapidly emerging scientific nations include Turkey, Iran and Tunisia
• R&D investment in developing countries is increasing: the share of foreign-owned business R&D in the developing world grew from 2% in 1996 to 18% in 2002
• Regions and cities are displacing countries as the relevant unit when discussing R&D – in the United States, the state of California accounted for more than one-fifth of national R&D spending in 2004, while Moscow accounts for 50% of Russian research articles
• Many established research centres and funders have become global brands that are no longer necessarily confined to their geographic location – the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom has a campus in China, for example, while the UK-based Wellcome Trust helps fund institutes in Asia and Africa
What’s your reaction to the report? If you’re a scientist working overseas, do you plan to return home later in your career? Are you seeing the benefits of international collaboration? Share your thoughts below.