Consolidation in a Crisis: Patterns of International Collaboration in COVID-19 Research
21 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020
Date Written: May 7, 2020
The COVID-19 global pandemic led scientists to turn their research agendas towards coronavirus related research. This paper seeks to understand whether a catastrophic and urgent event, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerates or reverses trends in international collaboration, especially in and between China and the United States. This early review shows that COVID-19 teams are smaller than those on coronavirus related research in the preceding period, and include fewer nations. The results reveal that the United States and China were, and continue to be, at the center of the global network in coronavirus related research, and continue their roles as the largest contributors to, and home to the main funders of, coronavirus related research during the global pandemic. An examination of the international collaborative activities of scientists based in these two countries documents that both nations increased their absolute levels of international collaboration following the outbreak and increased their collaboration with each other, but that they are partnering with fewer nations than in the preceding period. These findings suggest that the global COVID-19 pandemic shifted the structure of scientific teams, narrowing team membership and favoring elite structures. These findings raise further questions over the decisions that scientists face in the formation of teams to maximize a speed, skill trade-off. Policy implications are discussed.
Keywords: COVID-19; international collaboration; coronavirus; science policy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation