The Global Scientific Village: Open Access Driving Collaborative Research

Scientists Working Together

Collaboration is undoubtedly a powerful tool. Bringing groups of scientists together with different skill sets makes it possible to answer complex research questions. The continuous movement of scientists between countries in order to facilitate training also encourages collaboration even after the initial exchange. The Caribbean, where co-authorship was 82% in 2014, leads in the list of regions conducting inter-country research projects. As a rule, in 2014, low-income countries were publishing the largest amount of collaborative research articles (86%), followed by lower middle-income countries (38%) and finally high-income countries (34%). This drive towards collarborative research is becoming increasingly evident with collaboration between regional and national networks, such as OpenAIRE and LA Referencia, which play a critical role in creating communities that practice, define standards, and publish scientific research that reflects the requirements of their region

Scientists who are members of a diaspora also work as catalysts for collaboration between the country in which they work or study and their home country. For instance, in 2014, the European Union had only 46% of its articles generated as a result of research collaboration. Although Switzerland is part of the European Union, 72% of the articles originating from Switzerland were the result of international research collaborations. This exceptional trend might be due to the fact that, in Switzerland, 51% of students in advanced research degrees, almost half of researchers in the private sector, and more than half of PhDs in the country’s universities were born in foreign countries.

Open Access Driving Collaboration

Current records state that about 36%-46% of research articles origination from the European Union and about 39%-42% of articles from Latin America list international co-authors, which are relatively low ratios. However, these two regions also have open access repositories. In Latin America, LA Referencia hosts more than 1.3 million documents, including articles, reports and theses. Similarly, OpenAIRE is the open access repository for European research. Recently, due to collaboration between both repositories, the data in LA Referencia is now accessible through OpenAIRE. Both OpenAIRE and LA Referencia represent slightly more than half of the world’s open access repositories. As you would expect, they contain a large portion of the world’s research output. These repositories are evidence of the fact that both Europe and Latin America have vibrant open access policies. This merger of the databases could play a role in encouraging collaboration between these regions.

Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) has more than 100 global members including libraries, research institutions, and funders. The access to data in LA Referencia documents from OpenAIRE was enabled in partnership with COAR. In order to allow the merger of data from different repositories, common guidelines had to be adapted. This facilitated the integration of content and enabled the seamless discovery of documents from these repositories. These three bodies are now working towards promoting greater connectivity within the global research community.

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