Caroline S. Wagner and Koen Jonkers find a clear correlation between a nation's scientific influence and the links it fosters with foreign researchers.
International projects account for at least 20% of national government spending on scientific research. Some countries spend as much as 50% of these funds on international collaborations. The number of internationally co-authored papers is growing rapidly. For countries at the forefront of research, the fraction of papers that are entirely 'home grown' is falling.
Is there a connection? We analysed publication and citation data for 36 nations, along with government expenditures on science. We found that although government spending on research and development (R&D) does correlate with the number of publications produced, it does not correlate with scientific impact — at least as assessed by citations, one of the few practical metrics available. What does correlate with impact is a country's openness, which we approximated by combining metrics of international co-authorship and the mobility of each nation's research workforce.