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September 12, 2023

Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships

Scientific collaborations are a critical component of research. They allow researchers from different countries to pool resources, expand the scope of their studies, and gain access to new expertise. They also offer a unique opportunity to work on projects that would be impossible for individual scientists to tackle alone. In addition to the practical benefits, collaborations can also enhance the international reputation of institutions involved in them.

International scientific collaborations are more important now than ever before. Many global challenges are too large and interlinked to be addressed by the separate efforts of individual nations: climate change, epidemic diseases old and new, antibiotic resistant bacteria, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, ocean pollution, and more.

But collaborating internationally is challenging. Among other things, it requires that researchers become familiar with the different cultures and work habits of their collaborators. It can also be difficult to schedule meetings that take into account multiple time zones. And politics can get in the way – as we’ve seen during the coronavirus pandemic and during the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union, security concerns can interfere with travel, potentially affecting research collaborations.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to overcome these obstacles and make international scientific collaborations more successful. Scientific American and the National Academy of Sciences launched Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships to articulate the benefits of collaboration, identify persistent barriers to multi-national science partnerships, and recommend solutions that will help researchers overcome these hurdles.