Knowledge, Networks and Nations, a publication of the UK Royal Society, surveys the global scientific landscape in 2011, noting the shift to an increasingly multipolar world underpinned by the rise of new scientific powers such as China, India and Brazil; as well as the emergence of scientific nations in the Middle East, South-East Asia and North Africa. The scientific world is also becoming more interconnected, with international collaboration on the rise. Over a third of all articles published in international journals are internationally collaborative, up from a quarter 15 years ago.
Collaboration is increasing for a variety of reasons. Enabling factors such as advances in communication technology and cheaper travel have played a part, but the primary driver of most collaboration is individual scientists. In seeking to work with the best of their peers and to gain access to complementary resources, equipment and knowledge, researchers fundamentally enhance the quality and improve the efficiency of their work.