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The Demography of the Peripatetic Researcher: Evidence on Highly Mobile Scholars from the Web of Science

  • Samin ArefEmail author
  • Emilio Zagheni
  • Jevin West
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11864)

Abstract

The policy debate around researchers’ geographic mobility has been moving away from a theorized zero-sum game in which countries can be winners (“brain gain”) or losers (“brain drain”), and toward the concept of “brain circulation,” which implies that researchers move in and out of countries and everyone benefits. Quantifying trends in researchers’ movements is key to understanding the drivers of the mobility of talent, as well as the implications of these patterns for the global system of science, and for the competitive advantages of individual countries. Existing studies have investigated bilateral flows of researchers. However, in order to understand migration systems, determining the extent to which researchers have worked in more than two countries is essential. This study focuses on the subgroup of highly mobile researchers whom we refer to as “peripatetic researchers” or “super-movers.”

More specifically, our aim is to track the international movements of researchers who have published in more than two countries through changes in the main affiliation addresses of over 62 million publications indexed in the Web of Science database over the 1956–2016 period. Using this approach, we have established a longitudinal dataset on the international movements of highly mobile researchers across all subject categories, and in all disciplines of scholarship. This article contributes to the literature by offering for the first time a snapshot of the key features of highly mobile researchers, including their patterns of migration and return migration by academic age, the relative frequency of their disciplines, and the relative frequency of their countries of origin and destination. Among other findings, the results point to the emergence of a global system that includes the USA and China as two large hubs, and England and Germany as two smaller hubs for highly mobile researchers.

Keywords

High-skilled migration Big data Bibliometric data Web of Science Science of science 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the anonymous referees for their comments, and Chowdhury Majedur Rahman for assistance with the data quality checks. SA and EZ designed and conducted the research and wrote the paper. JW contributed in extracting the data.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Demographic ResearchRostockGermany
  2. 2.Information School, University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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