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An in-depth analysis of government funding and international collaboration in scientific research

Abstract

Based on publications indexed in the Web of Science, the current study focused on internationally collaborated publications and publications acknowledging government funding of developing and developed countries including China, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Brazil. Specific focus is placed on national funding agencies (i.e., focal agencies) supporting competitive research in science. The focal agencies of the six countries include the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF), German Research Foundation, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), and National Council for Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil (CNPq). Results show that different countries vary in arrangement of government funding sources in support of competitive research projects. China and Brazil are centralized to the NSFC and CNPq, whereas the remaining four countries have relatively decentralized sources. The six focal national funding agencies of the current study are more efficient than non-focal agencies in raising citation impact, with the NWO, NSF, and NSFC perform better than non-focal agencies of corresponding countries. International collaboration improves citation impact, with the developing countries benefit more. Authorship (first or corresponding authorship) also plays a role in international collaboration. Collaboration led by authors from developed countries has a positive effect whereas that led by authors from developing countries usually have negative effects on citation impact. Interaction between funding and collaboration may have results different from those when these two factors are considered separately, which suggests being cautious while discussing effects of either of the two factors.

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    Agriculture and Food Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Basic Life Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Biomedical sciences, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Construction, Clinical Medicine, Computer Sciences, Earth Sciences and Technology, Electrical Engineering and Telecommunication, Energy Science and Technology, Environmental Sciences and Technology, General and Industrial Engineering, Health Sciences, Instruments and Instrumentation, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace, Multidisciplinary Journals, Physics and Materials Science, Statistical Sciences.

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Acknowledgements

This study is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Number: 71843012) and the major basic theoretical research Project of Zhejiang University (Grant Number 16ZDJC003). Thank the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) in Leiden University for allowing access to its CWTS-licensed version of the Web of Science database (WoS) of Clarivate. Dr. Rodrigo Costas, a senior researcher of CWTS, provided suggestions of selecting target countries and indicators. Dr. Clara Calero-Medina, a researcher of CWTS offered help in collecting funded data of CWTS. We are grateful for the reviewer’s comments and suggestions.

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Zhou, P., Cai, X. & Lyu, X. An in-depth analysis of government funding and international collaboration in scientific research. Scientometrics 125, 1331–1347 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-020-03595-2

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Keywords

  • Government funding
  • International collaboration
  • Citation impact
  • Focal agency