日期:2013-03-26 11:03


Sixty years ago, Francis Crick and James Watson announced their discovery of the structure of DNA. The academics themselves were an international pair: one was American, the other British. Back then, both needed to be in Cambridge to work together. Things had changed little in the 250 years since Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz argued about calculus. Today, however, duos such as Crick and Watson can work in different countries because technology has slashed the cost of collaborating among research leaders.
60年前,弗朗西斯·克里克(Francis Crick)和詹姆斯·沃森(James Watson)宣布,他们发现了脱氧核糖核酸(DNA)的结构。这两位学者是一对国际合作伙伴:一个是英国人,另一个是美国人。当时,这种合作是建立在两人都身在剑桥大学(Cambridge University)的基础上。自艾萨克·牛顿(Isaac Newton)和戈特弗里德·莱布尼茨(Gottfried Leibniz)讨论微积分以来的250年里,这种情况基本上没有什么变化。但如今,像克里克和沃森这样的合作伙伴可身在不同的国家工作,因为科技的发展大大降低了研究带头人之间的合作成本。
The UK, and Cambridge university, provide evidence of this change. Since 1981, the number of journal articles produced by UK researchers has risen 150 per cent, to about 100,000 articles a year. But when you look at domestic papers, where all of the authors were in Britain, output is almost flat. According to the Thomson Reuters Web of Science database of 12,000 journals, since 2010 the majority of journal articles with a British-based author has had at least one co-author from another country.
英国和剑桥大学为这种改变提供了证据。1981年以来,英国研究人员发表的期刊论文数量增长了150%,达到每年10万篇左右。不过,如果你考察的是英国本土论文(即论文的作者全都住在英国),那么发表数量几乎没有变化。根据收录有1.2万份期刊的汤森路透科学网(Thomson Reuters Web of Science)数据库,自2010年以来,英国作者发表的期刊论文绝大多数都至少有一位来自其他国家的共同作者。
This is not a solely UK phenomenon. Research shows the same trend in the US, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Academics may reside in one country, but they belong to a community that has no boundaries. Their output is international. This has particularly affected cutting-edge research teams. We can measure the importance of research by counting how many times articles are subsequently cited by other researchers. The average citation impact of UK research is well above the world average. However, an article produced by a mixture of UK-based and foreign researchers can expect to be cited more than half as many times again compared with a wholly UK research team.
A network of elite institutions is emerging beyond national boundaries that is almost independent of their hinterlands. Cambridge’s top international partners are all leaders themselves: the Max Planck Institute, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Caltech, Berkeley, Toronto, Heidelberg and Tokyo.
一个由精英研究机构组成的网络正在超越国界的限制,它几乎独立于这些机构的所在国存在。剑桥的顶级国际合作伙伴们自身也都是一流研究机构:马克斯·普朗克研究所(Max Planck Institute)、哈佛大学(Harvard)、麻省理工学院(MIT)、加州理工学院(Caltech)、加州大学伯克利分校(Berkeley)、多伦多大学(University of Toronto)、海德堡大学(Heidelberg)和东京大学(The University of Tokyo)。
Indeed, more than half of Cambridge’s research is joint with global partners. Its output is already high-impact, but it gets a citation boost from collaborative work. In the UK, the disparity in impact between domestic and international research is growing. Universities with few international partners are behind.
Outside Europe and North America, however, the pattern is different. Since 1981, domestic research has at least trebled among the Bric nations. Growth was astronomic in China, where research by teams there has grown tenfold since 1997 and is now 30 per cent greater than the UK’s output. “Homegrown” research is also expanding rapidly in emerging research powers such as Brazil, India, South Korea and eastern Europe.
This transformation is creating a massive global research industry that is causing some big problems for national science policy makers in advanced economies. First, reading the published output of academics from these more closed academic communities will not give our researchers access to their culture, priority setting and problem solving. So the research superpowers must start expanding partnerships between their own institutions and leading ones in the emerging research nations. Stop worrying about brain drains: the west needs to start sending scientists to work in these countries.
Furthermore, it will be tougher for governments in the west to capture future returns on investment in research. Future innovation and developments are increasingly likely to have owners in several countries. It will not be possible to generate, corral and contain the innovative knowledge within one country, so governments need to be training and retaining the people who know how to use these discoveries.
The primary reason for investing in the research base is to support great research. What they produce pays off in unpredictable ways, often with huge social and economic benefits. In the short term, a research base that spawned both Newton and Crick produces people who can drive innovation in business. But the challenge of weaving research into economic success is no longer just about getting the best brains into labs in your own country.
The writer is director of research at Thomson Reuters IP and Science
本文作者是汤森路透知识产权与科技(Thomson Reuters IP and Science)研究主管

  • directorn. 董事,经理,主管,指导者,导演
  • unpredictableadj. 不可预知的
  • corraln. 畜栏 vt. 赶入,围住,聚集
  • capturevt. 捕获,俘获,夺取,占领,迷住,(用照片等)留存
  • challengen. 挑战 v. 向 ... 挑战
  • domesticadj. 国内的,家庭的,驯养的 n. 家仆,佣人
  • instituten. 学会,学院,协会 vt. 创立,开始,制定
  • containvt. 包含,容纳,克制,抑制 vi. 自制
  • collaborativeadj. 合作的,协作的
  • announced宣布的