Collaborative research: accomplishments & potential.
Bottom Line: In conclusion, it is useful to study the characteristics of collaborative research and set targets for the future.Particular ways to increase the efficiency and interaction in interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration may be developed.We can work towards "the principles of collaborative research" in Environmental Epidemiology.
Although a substantial part of scientific research is collaborative and increasing globalization will probably lead to its increase, very few studies actually investigate the advantages, disadvantages, experiences and lessons learned from collaboration. In environmental epidemiology interdisciplinary collaboration is essential and the contrasting geographical patterns in exposure and disease make multi-location projects essential. This paper is based on a presentation given at the Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Paris 2006, and is attempting to initiate a discussion on a framework for studying collaborative research. A review of the relevant literature showed that indeed collaborative research is rising, in some countries with impressive rates. However, there are substantial differences between countries in their outlook, need and respect for collaboration. In many situations collaborative publications receive more citations than those based on national authorship. The European Union is the most important host of collaborative research, mainly driven by the European Commission through the Framework Programmes. A critical assessment of the tools and trends of collaborative networks under FP6, showed that there was a need for a critical revision, which led to changes in FP7. In conclusion, it is useful to study the characteristics of collaborative research and set targets for the future. The added value for science and for the researchers involved may be assessed. The motivation for collaboration could be increased in the more developed countries. Particular ways to increase the efficiency and interaction in interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration may be developed. We can work towards "the principles of collaborative research" in Environmental Epidemiology.
Related in: MedlinePlus
Mentions: In Figure 1 we see the links between different countries, as expressed in joint paper authorships for all scientific fields combined . The links are quantified with the use of Salton's measure  which may be seen as the proportion of collaborative publications between two countries over the total number of internationally co-authored publications in both countries. Therefore an increasing value in Salton's measure reflects an increase in bilateral collaboration over and above the general increase in internationally co-authored papers. A dotted line in Figure 1 signifies a Salton's measure >1.5% and solid line >2.5%. We observe links between the US and Canada, the US and European countries, important inter-European links, links within Scandinavian countries etc. In Figure 2 we can see how impressively the links have increased. The solid lines are now much more numerous and the thick lines represent Salton's measure >5%, which did not exist before. The links existing in 1985/6 have been strengthened and new links (eg. between Hong Kong and China, between Australia and New Zealand) have been established.