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Mapping research collaboration among APEC economies

Ali Radloff provides insights into the scale of, and trends in, cross-border co-authorship in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2016 the Australian Government Department of Education and Training commissioned ACER to explore the scale and scope of co-authorship between researchers in the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC), in order to further understand research collaboration in the region.

The research project involved the analysis of peer-reviewed documents published between 2011 and 2015 as catalogued in one of the world’s largest databases of peer reviewed literature, as a proxy measure of patterns of cross-border research collaboration among APEC economies.

More than seven million publications, or 54 per cent of all publications indexed, were found to be affiliated with researchers from APEC economies. Of these, around 686 000 or nine per cent included co-authors from researchers in another APEC economy.

Further analysis revealed that some APEC countries have been more active in collaborating with their peers than others:

  • In six APEC economies (Hong Kong, China; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; Singapore; and Vietnam) more than 40 per cent of all publications were co-authored with researchers in another APEC economy.
  • In 13 APEC economies the proportion of publications co-authored with researchers in other APEC economies was between 15 and 40 per cent.
  • Only China and Russia had fewer than 15 per cent of all publications co-authored with researchers in other APEC economies.

Between 2011 and 2015, in almost all APEC economies there were significant increases in the proportion of publications that were co-authored by researchers from two or more member economies, with an overall increase of 24 per cent recorded for the region.

Most collaboration on publications between researchers in APEC economies involved researchers in two APEC economies, with only 10 per cent of papers were co-authored by researchers from more than two. A mere 230 publications (less than 0.1 per cent) were co-authored by researchers from 10 or more APEC economies.

Looking beyond the APEC region, around 20 per cent of all publications affiliated with researchers from two or more member economies also included researchers from non-APEC economies.

The research builds on work from a number of previous activities that have explored cross-border education cooperation, researcher mobility and institutional mobility in the APEC region, and was an outcome of an APEC Researcher Mobility Workshop held in December 2015 in Jakarta, which recommended the development of a data set on the mobility of researchers among APEC economies.

It was noted at that December workshop that information on researcher mobility is currently limited to that data held by agencies such as the OECD, UNESCO and the World Bank, which lack specific reference to researcher mobility and in some cases omit a number of APEC economies.

Beyond developing a data set which identifies the scope and patterns of researcher mobility among APEC economies, workshop participants identified the need for research on the impact of researcher mobility, not just in terms of innovation but also social, economic, environmental and cultural impact.

The statistics ACER gathered on research publications co-authored by researchers from more than one APEC economy, while providing some indication of researcher collaboration, do not fully represent the impact of that collaboration. As noted in the workshop, such information is needed to inform policymaking that directs resources towards outcomes that have been found to generate benefits. ■

Read the full report:
Mapping Researcher Mobility: Measuring research collaboration among APEC economies by Ali Radloff (ACER) 2016.

See also: Researcher Mobility Workshop Report: Researcher mobility among APEC economies by Sarah Richardson and Julie McMillan (ACER) and Ren Yi (Macquarie University) 2015.


About the author

Ali Radloff is a Research Fellow in ACER’s Tertiary Education research program.

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