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Knowledge, Networks and Nations

Religion, economics, and science are global entities. To explore what is happening in these three domains provides greater insight into global trends than the aspirations, intentions, or policies of any particular country. The Royal Society has published an outstanding report on Knowledge, Networks and Nations (.pdf). The report is packed with all kinds of statistical goodies: almost $1.2 trillion spent annual on research, 7.1 million researchers, and 1.58 million annual research publications (of which less than 9% come from social sciences and humanities).

A few other points:

  • The G-8 countries are still leaders in research, but will be overtaken by China in the near future.
  • The growing need for open access – not only in developing countries, but for the benefit of science globally.
  • 65% of R&D is funded by private enterprise (up from 52% in 1981) in OECD countries. Developing countries have a greater percentage of gov’t funded research.
  • Collaboration is on the rise – researchers, institutions, and countries are interconnected in their research (some outstanding images of global collaboration from p. 48-56)
  • “Science is happening in more places but it remains concentrated. There continue to be major hubs of scientific production—flagship universities and institutes clustered in leading cities. What is changing is that the number of these hubs is increasing and they are becoming more interconnected.”
  • The growing role of foundations (Bill & Melinda Gates in particular) on global health research…along with concerns about transparency of Foundations in general.

If you want to get a broad overview of science and research globally, this is a must-read report.