NextGen Results

NextGen VOICES: Results

We asked young scientists to answer this question:

In your experience, what is the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration? How should it be addressed?

In the 3 October 2014 issue, we ran excerpts from 16 of the many interesting responses we received. Below, you will find the full versions of those 16 essays (in the order they were printed) as well as the best of the other submissions we received (ordered alphabetically by author name).

Would you like to participate in the next NextGen VOICES survey? To make your voice heard, go to

(Can't get enough NextGen? See the results of previous surveys at Future of a Generation, Definition of Success, Experiences that Changed Us, Big Ideas, Experiments in Governing, Science Communication's Future, Science Time Travel, Work-Life Balance, Enduring Ideas, Science Advocacy, and Science Ethics)

Follow the NextGen VOICES survey on Twitter with the hashtag #NextGenSci.

Essays in print

Lag time between translational research and product development is a pressing issue that is further exacerbated when the two processes are separated on a global scale. In many cases, scientific research and the consumer market that can potentially benefit the most are separated by cultural and political boundaries. This lack of cultural awareness is a major setback to global scientific collaboration. From my experience in the medical device industry, collaboration is hindered by researchers' inability to distinguish between the various attitudes toward death in indigenous versus modernized cultures. It is important for me as a scientist to understand which parts of the world have greater demand for the most technologically advanced life-saver. Greater cultural competency must be engrained in scientists' brains from a young age, and it is best learned through experience, not from a textbook. Thus, I propose that the scientific community reevaluates its outlook on study abroad programs to encourage aspiring scientists to learn overseas. Science class credits do not transfer as easily between international universities as do classes in the humanities. Inadvertently, this system deters young scientists from learning in other countries, from discovering cultural and political systems different from their own, and from networking with international scientists. When young researchers make breakthroughs in their respective fields, they should be able to quickly identify which parts of the world they should collaborate with so that they can help the people who need their innovation the most.
Nirupa Galagedera
Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: ganirupa{at}

Since 2011, I've been regularly involved in global mental health collaborations between India and the United States. I initiated these because I am originally from India and moved to the United States for graduate school. The United States also provided me postdoctoral training followed by an academic faculty position. The original reason I moved here was the lack of cognitive and translational neurosciences opportunities in India; now I've been able to learn and apply these methods back in the field in India with my global mental health collaborators [J. Mishra et al., Child Adolesc. Mental Health 7, 38 (2013)]. The NIH/Fogarty International Clinical Research Fellowship followed by a Global Health Basic Science Award from my university has facilitated this long-term collaboration. A big challenge I have faced is allowing my Indian research collaborators to have increased interaction with my team in the United States. I go to India once a year to transfer my knowledge and train collaborators, but it would really be great to have more mechanisms that allow my collaborators and mentees to visit me in the United States often, perhaps for internships of 3 to 12 months, to learn first-hand from our methods and then go back and apply these in their local setting. If such travel and interaction were built into global science collaborative grants, and more such grants were available, they would be bound to stimulate greater global collaboration. Furthermore, making research and technology advances available across the globe would eliminate nation-specific brain drain in a global science culture.
Jyoti Mishra
Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
E-mail: jyoti.mishra{at}

The oldest and still the biggest barriers to the global scientific collaboration are religionious andcultural differences. The differences and biases make scientists believe that they cannot work together to create common value. To give an example, scientists from Iran and Europe usually do not participate in the same collaboration group because of religious differences and political biases.  The problem can be addressed only by removing the borders among the countries. People should be able to travel all around the world freely (without applying for a visa), know new cultures, share food, and share how to create value for humanity. This process will surely take a long time and involve many \ security and public issues. However, these problems can be resolved with common sense. In a nutshell, if we want to discover new planets, first we need to learn to live together in the world.
Meryem Ayas
STM Savunma Teknolojileri ve Mühendislik A.Ş., 06800, Ankara, Turkey.
E-mail: meryem.ayas{at}

I believe that the current system, in which research is mostly funded and organized at the national level, along with the uneven nature of research infrastructure, is greatest barrier to global scientific collaboration. We need a global research system, in which every country, developed or developing, must contribute to a central fund that seeks to establish research infrastructure across the globe. The type and location of the type of infrastructure should be determined on practical basis. The United Nations was established to take care of global security; the same should be done for scientific research. As Louis Pasteur said, "Science is for all humanity, it is the light that illuminates the world." A true global science research system will be the solution to all kinds of problems confronting the scientific research enterprise.
Patrick Kobina Arthur
Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Ghana, Legon-Accra, Ghana.
E-mail: jyoti.mishra{at}

Is someone trustworthy is a very challenging question to answer before contacting a potential collaborator whom you do not know and have never met before. One can tell easily about a professor's academic standing and scientific merits through his publications and achievements by simple online search, but building trust between researchers in different parts of the world and sustaining it throughout the project is undoubtedly the biggest challenge facing global collaboration. I believe building trust and leading the collaboration in the right way is a skill that can be learned. After practicing research in Egypt and the United States, I can say that different countries manage collaboration differently due to many factors, including cultural variations and differences in working environment. These differences might lead to misunderstanding between collaborators, a gap in connection, and consequently an easy loss of trust, which results in problems that hinder progress and allow more problems to develop. Scientists worldwide should set rules and ethics for effective collaboration; a global norm would provide a common ground for scientists to build together the trust required for the project to succeed. I also suggest having a course in each graduate school for young scientists—the future science leaders—to learn these rules and ethics and get the chance to apply them early in their careers.
Islam Mosa
Department of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA and Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Tanta University, Tanta, Egypt.
E-mail: islam.mosa{at}

There is no question about this:- The biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration is the lack of funding earmarked for the costs of collaboration itself. This is more than the usual bellyaching; global scientific collaboration presents the problem of how to maintain frequent multilateral communications between research partners, including the exchange of material and personnel, which is expensive since people and equipment are less mobile than data. If you need to teach someone a technique, or visit a field site in order to ensure that the same person samples all the replicates in the data set, there is no provision for funding these unsexy "details" of the research program. Funding the exchange of knowledge itself—and not a tangible thing like a piece of equipment or a stipend for a worker—does not seem to be on the radar of most funding agencies. Worse, there is an expectation that expertise—like data—could or should somehow be exchanged online rather than in person, which is unrealistic.    I therefore believe that a good deal of promising research ends up being highly parochial because the grant money available is not sufficient to permit inclusion of foreign researchers into a research project. Despite the tantalizing idea of scientific work crossing borders freely (as business does), we lack the funding infrastructure to maintain large-scale scientific collaboration on a global level.
P. William Hughes
Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada.

The biggest challenge that global scientific collaboration faces is dealing with technical secrets and issues that concern national security.  I know of one collaboration that was forced to terminate midstream because the results of the collaboration could have, potentially, been used for military purposes, and this was considered a "security threat" to one of the countries involved. To make the case even worse, the foreign researcher was investigated and faced the risk of being deported from the primary country of the collaboration. Such collaborative work is not only a waste of money and time, but could also be disastrous for the researcher's career and personal life. Therefore, I believe that before embarking on such research endeavors, all parties should understand the areas where collaboration is permitted and which lines should not be touched or crossed. Indeed, it is often the case that since the boundaries are vague, an individual researcher may not even realize the potential problems. It would be very helpful if governments provided researchers with directions so they could avoid risky areas and thus protect themselves from situations like the one mentioned above. In the absence of such guidance, it is not prudent for researchers to collaborate, especially in potentially sensitive areas.
Lei Jiao
Department of Information and Communication Technology, University of Agder, Grimstad, 4879, Norway.
E-mail: lei.jiao{at}

The biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration is the language barrier. For Anglophones like me, the convenient solution is to impose English as the official language of science. This solution, however, is disrespectful to other cultures and puts ESL scientists at a major disadvantage in reading and writing publications. Instead, we should use technology to demolish the language barrier. In my 6 years of struggling to learn French, I often found that Google Translate's abilities were improving faster than mine. Unfortunately, automated translation of technical terms and scientific papers lags by comparison. We should assemble a network of bilingual scientists to collaborate with Google; together, they will produce scientific software on par with Google Translate. By demolishing the language barrier, global scientific collaborations will be easier to start, and existing collaborations will become even more successful.
Sam Allon
Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: allons{at}

Regulatory mandates are a major obstacle to global scientific collaboration.  Research that is deemed permissible in one country may be illegal in another country, thus making it difficult for researchers to participate in studies that may result in a person being ostracized from their local scientific community.  This barrier has been highly visible in the field of human embryonic stem cell research, where researchers in the United States must adhere to legislation and funding limitations that researchers in European countries have not faced.  There are many reasons why regulations developed by individual countries are appropriate to govern the research occurring in that nation, but disparate regulations are a major obstacle for worldwide collaboration in the scientific community.
Kara Kuntz-Melcavage
Department of Medical Management, Johns Hopkins HealthCare LLC, Glen Burnie, MD 21060, USA.
E-mail: kkuntz{at}

In my opinion, the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration is to work for scientific knowledge itself, leaving aside personal interests such as profit, competition, rivalry, or selfish recognition. It would be wonderful to have free international scientific websites for every subject matter, where all the groups can share their manuscripts, thesis papers, books, and opinions related to a specific research topic. This would enable us to interact easily because, although international meetings are important opportunities to do this, not everybody has the opportunity to attend them and they don't usually last for more than a week. Therefore, by creating networks, it would be possible to share information and ideas among scientific communities, which would make it possible to join efforts, ideas, and resources, allowing global scientific collaboration. Even though this could be difficult to achieve, it is a dream which everybody can work on.
M. Romina Schiaffino
Laboratorio de Limnología, Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1428EHA, Argentina.
E-mail: rominaschiaffino{at}

There exists a wide gap in the technological advancement among developed, developing, and undeveloped countries. To address any global problem collaboration among all these countries is a must. However the divide that exists in technologies, working culture, requirements, and vested interests of the participating countries will hinder implementation of any global project. Such gaps may further bring about a breach of conduct among the scientists of the collaborating groups, especially at the time of sharing of the results and evaluation. Tackling or normalizing such problems to provide a common platform will be one of the biggest challenges to global scientific collaborations. To tackle such problems, time and funding for preparation of common facilities at each collaborating unit may be provided before the project starts. Identification and recruitment of equally competent collaborating members should be handled seriously. Strict monitoring of project implementation progress should not be just limited on papers but be physically verified at each location.
Poonam C. Singh
Division of Plant Microbe Interactions, CSIR–National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, 226001, India.
E-mail: pc.singh{at}>

In today's globalized world, science has become fairly globalized. A growing number of international and national funding organizations encourage global scientific collaborations. It is rather inevitable for a scientist to establish collaboration in a different part of the world, not just for the relevance of his scientific work but also to have easier access to various grant money. However, the globalized world has brought global challenges with it, such as brain drain, immigration, and terrorism. This may not be directly related to science per se. However, there is no denying that these indirect threats do have serious repercussions on global scientific collaborations. The immigration cap in many countries (e.g., in the US after 9/11 and recently in Switzerland as a result of referendum 2014 against mass immigration) and the issues associated with international mobility of research funds (e.g., corrupt bureaucracy in collaborating countries) affect science and research.  To enable scientists to tap in the global scientific networks and collaborations, it would be beneficial if universities and research centers were separated from any immigration cap. International mobility of R&D funds, if made more transparent and less bureaucratic, would also help the mobility of scientists and science, in general. Given the scale of issues that science tackles, governments should put more emphasis on facilitating technology transfer to encourage global scientific collaborations.
Swati Negi
ETH Zürich, Group of For-est Management and De-velopment (ForDev), Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Department of Environmental Sciences, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.
E-mail: swati.negi{at}

In my own experience, diplomatic issues have lately put way too many obstacles before global scientific collaboration. In many cases, a number of countries could come together to share information, technology, and knowledge, but their political and diplomatic relations keep them away from collaborating. I was born in Brazil and I currently live in Israel. Israel could share technology with Brazil in, at least, fields like surveillance and riot control, drought avoidance and water reservoirs management, and border control. Meanwhile, Brazil has vast experience in exploring oil and gas in deep waters, a field that Israel is starting to work on. But relations between them were stressed due to diplomatic issues concerning the current military operation. It has nothing to do with science and technology, but political issues still get too much on the way. And diplomats should be more concerned about building bridges of understanding and collaboration, instead of generating even more problems. We live in a world where people from different parts of the globe can work together remotely. We made it possible that the physical distance shouldn't avoid scientific or any other kind of collaboration. So why do we keep away from working together due to political disparities? There should be scientific cooperation councils in every government whose main activity would be creating the proper conditions for a scientific collaboration even if the countries involved don't keep good (or any) diplomatic relations.
Rivca E. Hildebrandt
RO'I Education, Jerusalem, Israel.
E-mail: rivcaeh{at}

Fear is the cause of separation. PIs and Ph.D.s alike are most afraid of being scooped. That is why we are hiding locally and theme-wise in our scientific niche. People tend to confuse separation with distinction. We need more scientific idols that exemplify that there are no borders in science, neither between countries nor between cultures or schools of thoughts. I do believe there is only one universal truth, which indeed can be accessed from different angles but we should seek coordinately. Synergies could enrich our scientific landscape. All the ways to fruitfully communicate in our interconnected world have to be harnessed. International collaborations are easy to organize if we understand that all of us, no matter where we live, have to contribute to pending research questions, and not for the money or reputation but for the sake of scientific progress. However, more exchange programs, international consortia, workshops, and competitions need to be launched for additional motivation. Reward is required if various people collaborate and finally publish together. Metrics could be introduced for shared ideas rather than published projects. In my view, these are options to tear down existing walls, dissolve the borders, and start truly interdisciplinary research to overcome current limits and bring science a step forward on the interpersonal level and the global scale alike.
Lorenz Adlung
Division of Systems Biology of Signal Transduction, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, D-69120, Germany.
E-mail: l.adlung{at}

The biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration is that funding dictates what should be the subject of research instead of identified problems motivating scientific objectives. In most cases, when you bring together scientists from the developed world (mostly carrying the funding purse) and those from the developing world (existing with specific challenges), there is no proper challenge-mapping in identifying important research areas that have shared relevance. Often, researchers from developed countries brush aside input from scientists from the developing countries. This leads to lack of combined seriousness on collaborative projects, where often scientists from the developing world are told what to do. There is lack of shared ownership. What is needed are equal partnerships where challenge-mapping includes all the stakeholders. In addition, funding should not be the reason to look at a particular problem, but rather agreed scientific relevance.
Collet Dandara
Division of Human Genetics and Institute for Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa.
E-mail: collet.dandara{at}

Thousands of Fellows, most of whom are young investigators, visit or study in different countries sponsored by Chinese government scholarships each year. The biggest challenge in global scientific collaboration for most of them is lack of ideas and innovations. Their supervisors or overseas collaborators are actually serving as idea/theory providers, while many of these investigators are learning new methods and designing the experiment to verify them. There is an interesting saying that the laowai (foreign scientists) dig holes, but Chinese investigators fill them with papers, which is because in the scientific research system of China, the amount of papers is a key indicator of performance assessment of an investigator. Pressures push young investigators to write more papers quickly without deep thinking. Therefore, in fisheries science, some innovations of young investigators in China are only transferring the existing research ideas and methods to another species. To address this problem, China needs to reform its assessment mechanism, including giving young investigators enough time and financial support, extending assessment time from 1 year to 4 or 5 years, and assessing quantity and quality of the papers together.
Liqiang Zhong
Freshwater Fisheries Research Institute of Jiangsu Province, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210017, China.
E-mail: lqzhongffri{at}

Top Online Essays

Global collaborative projects bring together scientists worldwide from different areas of expertise, allowing the investigation of a problem from multiple angles and yielding results that would have been impossible without a multidisciplinary consortium. Global scientific collaboration, however, does not always produce global knowledge. I believe that certain economic and social variables manage to block the globalization of knowledge. Science is being ruled by a strong commercialization process where scientific outcome is considered a commodity. As such, the transfer and dissemination of knowledge are guided by economic considerations, and, as a consequence, scientists often find financial or legal restrictions to get full access to knowledge. The spread of knowledge to the nonscientific community is also being limited. Scientists are usually reluctant to become involved in outreach activities if those efforts do not represent a direct benefit to their careers. Furthermore, scientific outcomes are not always adequately decodified into comprehensible information accessible by a general audience. Within this context, a gap exists and needs to be filled between global collaboration and global knowledge. To overcome this problem, I believe that scientific journals should necessarily adopt an entirely open-access policy. Moreover, researchers should be responsible for communicating their scientific outcomes to a general audience and do so in such a way that the concepts can be understood by nonspecialists, thereby improving the public's understanding of science. So far, we have managed to establish successful global scientific collaborations; our next goal, however, should be to implement strategies to ensure an effective globalization of the resulting knowledge.
Nicolás Bonel
Laboratorio de Zoología de Invertebrados I - Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia, Universidad Nacional del Sur, San Juan 670, Bahía Blanca, Buenos Aires, B8000ICN, Argentina.
E-mail: nicobonel{at}

The inequalities between countries' economic, scientific, and technological power have become the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration. In the past decade, researchers in developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada have conducted a growing number of seamless collaborations in scientific research. International collaboration, however, doesn't mean global collaboration. Developing countries are often unable to invest large amounts of funds and resources into scientific research, due to the low level of economic development. As a result, developing countries are often assigned with a small quantity of rudimentary tasks within global collaborative research. A critical question, therefore, is how developing countries should give full play to their advantages in order to participate in global scientific research. To solve this problem, developing countries should initially make scientific policies that are propitious to international collaborations. They ought to take actions to make pure academic exchanges into substantive joint research collaborations. By making full use of policies and resources, the major emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil have participated in a growing number of cutting-edge scientific research projects. For example, Chinese researchers previously contributed just 1% of data to the global Human Genome Project, but in the ongoing Human Proteome Project, China aims to eventually contribute at least 30% of data to the international effort. Additionally, scientific and public policies should specifically focus on young scientists to help them develop international perspectives.
Bo Cao
College of Life Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Chang'an District, Xi'an, Shaanxi, 710119, China.
E-mail: bocao{at}

For non-native speakers of English, language is always the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration. Reading literature in the field, writing a manuscript, attending overseas conferences, talking with leading scientists—during all these scientific activities, we need to deliver our ideas precisely and concisely in English, a foreign language that we are trained by all means throughout all our past education. When coming to Hong Kong SAR from Mainland China for my Ph.D. study, it occurred to me that English proficiency is the essential prerequisite to doing my research as well as communicating with international colleagues. I strived my best to solve this problem, such as reinstalling Windows into an English version (reading), updating English status in my blogs (writing), attending lectures that are using English as the official language (listening). Besides, I tried every chance to deliver oral presentations in English under all circumstances (speaking), in lab meetings or international conferences, because this is one of the most important parts of our future scientific career for global collaboration. Last December, I attended the FENS-Hertie Winter School in Austria as the only participant from Asia. Although I was probably the only one having problems using English, I still survived, and I made many friends with European young scientists who are potential future collaborators in my scientific career.
Wen-Qiang Chen
Department of Physiology, The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Medicine, Hong Kong, China.
E-mail: chenwq{at}

The biggest challenge, I think, is the inequality in academic circles resulting from deep gaps in scientific levels. This scientific inequality is more prominent between developing and developed countries. Compared with their counterparts come from developed countries, scientists from developing countries usually don't have equal research opportunities. Specifically, they don't get the same chance to assess the advanced technology, equipment, or even forward-looking ideas. Having fewer opportunities makes them lag behind in scientific development to some extent. These low-level scientists also can't enjoy the treatment that high-level scientists receive. Under some circumstances, the latter are unwilling to collaborate with or invite the former to join scientific collaboration. However, it is well known that global scientific collaboration needs the participation of scientists around the world, especially when it comes to issues concerning developing countries. Several efforts could be made to deal with this inequality. First, some international scientific organizations should take responsibility to address these situations and promote global collaboration, such as funding more scientists from developing countries to join global collaboration programs and supporting them to improving their research conditions. Second, high-level scientists should encourage low-levels to state their opinions flat-out and help them make progress to become an indispensable part of the collaboration. Last but not the least, scientists from developing countries, on their own, should more actively participate in global scientific cooperation and speak their viewpoints loudly. All scientists, regardless of nationality and talent should have equal chance to join global scientific collaboration.
Aifang Chen
Beijing Normal University, Haidian District, Beijing, 100875, China.
E-mail: aifchen{at}

In my opinion the biggest challenge is related to the almost impossibility of using the funding of one country by colleagues in other countries. This means that a PI must include a co-PI in other countries that cannot receive money. For example, for U.S. PIs it is very hard to get any funding from the European Union, China, or Australia. Because science is global—i.e., global issues are truly global—there should be a flexible funding system in which co-PIs of different countries can share money, at least for research that has immediate social impact. The practicality of research is actually important and success should be based not only on the ability to write peer-reviewed papers but also on the ability to solve real-world issues. This is certainly helping global collaborations because industries are global and many times it is useful to connect to scientists who work in support of the same technology that helps people worldwide. All these issues are made even worse by the single PI model rather than a center-centered model for funding and teaching.
Matteo Convertino
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
E-mail: matteoc{at}

Given the specialization of research groups and the complexity of the studies that are currently undertaken, global scientific collaboration is essential in the field of life sciences. Both international and interdisciplinary collaborative work are important to achieve high-quality investigations. I believe that the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration is achieving truly interdisciplinary teamwork. Research groups often join efforts for very specific issues, such as particular techniques or very limited projects. A real interconnection between groups that work in different fields is a determining factor to successfully address complex problems. For example, in biomedical studies, basic, applied, and translational researchers, as well as physicians and other health workers, need to work hand in hand. This will enable a better understanding of the disease itself, but also of the concrete needs of patients, leading to novel or improved diagnostics and treatments. Global complex problems, such as energy, environmental issues, pandemics or diseases related to aging societies, also have to be faced jointly by different disciplines. To achieve this collaborative scientific effort, with specialists from different fields working together, financial support should be granted specifically to interdisciplinary projects. It is also important to encourage congresses, seminars, and workshops dedicated to multidisciplinary studies. I am convinced that interdisciplinary scientific collaboration will result in a direct benefit for society.
Ana Laura De Lella Ezcurra
Fundación Instituto Leloir, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
E-mail: aezcurra{at}

I'd say the "publish or perish" culture. We are engaged in the never-ending futile competitive cycle of publishing five replica papers that show that oranges, grapes, mangoes, bananas, and pears respectively follow the rules of gravity (apple being the first) so that we can apply for grants and publish five more papers showing five more fruits also follow the same rule. We set the hypotheses that are straightforward and predictive because there is absolutely no reward for risk taking. In these times of austerity, we want to do science alone, no matter how much insignificant, so that we can win the race of  "the survival of the fittest." Sadly, fittest implies the number and impact factor and not the quality of the paper. We spend millions to publish a paper that saves zero human lives and we are happy with that because it was in the high–impact factor journal. We sit on top of several potentially significant data that we cannot comprehend on our own, but hesitate to discuss with other researchers who we fear might get the clue, publish the data on their own, and enjoy the rare taste of research grants by themselves. Suggestions: (i) Allocate more grants so that scientists do not have to play the "hunger games" to survive.  (ii) Scientists can be isolated creatures. They should be informed about the benefits of collaboration.  (iii) Foster cross-disciplinary research.  (iv) Start collaborative research from undergraduate labs. (v) Eliminate "publish in 5 years or perish."
Sushil Devkota
Department of Biochemistry, Yonsei University, Seoul, 120-749, Korea.
E-mail: capsiannum{at}

Collaboration is the heart of prodigious discoveries that have changed our lives. Despite globalization and advances in technology that make collaboration easier and faster, it still suffers from the ethical rules that govern cooperation. Collaboration in the field of materials science resembles a two-sided coin in which the positive side is the mutually beneficial relationship between all collaborators in multidisciplinary groups. But the negative side appears especially when we are working in cutting-edge topics of research in the absence of well-established ethical rules that prevent conflict of interest. Ethical rules not only control ideas but extend to all categories of collaborations, such as funding, facilities, and rights for breakthrough discoveries. This is the biggest challenge facing the young researchers who seek for global scientific collaboration. How we can keep the collaboration without hurting our ideas? We need to discuss and exchange ideas with collaborators, but at the same time we need to keep our ideas only partially disclosed until we can patent or publish the results. So, the intelligent young scientists who can manage this dilemma will succeed in their scientific career until the scientific community can develop defined world ethical rules of collaboration.
Abdelhamid Mohamad Abdelhamid El-Sawy
Chemistry Department, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269–3060, USA.
E-mail: abdelhamid.El-Sawy{at}

That global environmental scientists have different worldviews represents an immense challenge for collaboration. Imagine two researchers, from Ghana and the United States, meeting at a conference. They were educated in their home country and have different worldviews, shaped by their cultural values and scientific experience. With their common interest in global water scarcity, they enthusiastically decide to collaborate. But the project slows down when they realize that they actually have different perceptions of the issue. The Ghanaian researcher, trained in agro-forestry, thinks it is essential to collect more hydrological data, whereas the other prefers to focus on future water demand. Clearly, this disagreement may be overcome through discussions, but less tangible misunderstandings will also lead to ineffective collaboration and frustrating researchers who will end up sharing data rather than ideas. Such challenges of diverging perceptions are exacerbated in emerging problem-driven disciplines, which are fundamentally affected by researchers' values. I think the philosophy of science can help recognize our different worldviews and how they affect scientific norms. My experience with the environmental research community suggests that it is critical to sensitize young scientists to the concept of worldview if they want to address the global challenges we face in the Anthropocene. Emerging interdisciplinary programs in environmental science should systematically include such training to improve the way young scientists communicate and truly collaborate. We need to move collaboration beyond data sharing and create knowledge that is relevant to the global society.
Perrine Hamel
Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
E-mail: perrine.hamel{at}

Awareness among researchers remains a challenge, as is availability of support for resources and adequate media through which researchers can communicate. How to address this: Find regional representatives on every continent who will represent researchers. Create a streaming media that scientists can use to air out ideas, views, findings, and opinions. Design collaboration policies or memoranda of understanding in developing countries and least-developed countries to protect individual findings.
Murwanyi Peter Happy
Department of Environmental Management, Makerere University, Uganda.

Although there are several challenges that limit global scientific collaboration, the issue of intellectual property (IP) protection features among the most prominent. It is well known that IP laws vary between states (i.e., between North America and Europe, or Europe and Asia). There have been several instances of real-world issues related to misuse of IP protections, especially between Asian countries and the West in the past. These could be attributed to several reasons; however, important among these include varying interpretations of scientific language and laws due to cultural and political influences. Furthermore, a lack of consensus between states related to the meaning of consent forms and institutional review board (IRB) processes while conducting research has hampered efforts toward global scientific collaborations. Efforts that may help reach consensus (i.e., both cultural and scientific) between scientists globally need to be encouraged. In order to ensure a level playing field, local governments should vigorously challenge and prosecute those individuals who breach copyright and patent laws. Collaborative efforts between scientific communities, academic centers, and the federal political establishment need to be encouraged. An improved understanding of local cultural influences prevalent in different parts of the world needs to be considered in future scientific discourse so that all relevant viewpoints and important stakeholders are considered before making meaningful changes to enhance global collaborative efforts. Similarly, variations in research practices around the world need to be studied so that efforts to help reach consensus among the scientific communities can be encouraged.
Ajay Kashi
Rochester, NY 14620, USA.
E-mail: ajay.kashi{at}

The lack of career and financial incentives and funding opportunities is a major challenge to global scientific collaboration.  Whether it is a university faculty search or tenure committee or the Nobel Committee, decisions regarding scientific success and career progression are based on what an individual has discovered and the extramural funding he/she has obtained, not on what one has "helped to discover." Furthermore, most funding bodies have stakeholders (i.e., taxpayers) that they must answer to, which is typically restricted to specific countries or regions of origin. Thus, to address these issues, private foundations and donors should incentivize global scientific collaboration through grants and prizes that reward innovative approaches to solving global scientific problems that can only be carried out through extensive collaborations.
Michael George Kemp
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
E-mail: michael_kemp{at}

Global scientific collaborations present a multitude of opportunities to advance research at a rapid pace. With the advent of real-time communication, collaboration on theoretical aspects on various topics has become easier, although language may still pose as a barrier. The biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration in my opinion lies in the timely exchange of experimental materials to obtain reproducible results. In biological research, obtaining a research sample in a timely manner allows reproducibility. Most of the time, samples are shipped frozen on dry ice to maintain their viability. The exorbitant cost of shipping aside, the time taken for customs/security checks may be one of the primary reasons behind many samples being rendered useless. In addition, delays due to any number of reasons result in loss of valuable samples.  One of the ways this problem could be addressed is by establishing a way/mechanism by which scientists could easily exchange materials. This proposal may bring its own set of issues, but unless exchange of materials is streamlined, it will always remain one of the major challenges in global scientific collaboration.
Naga Rama Kothapalli
University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA.

In my field of theoretical biology, one does not even need to meet personally in order to collaborate. Online tools offer opportunities to share ideas, data, and drafts. Furthermore, there are now social media places for scientists, and thus one can easily look for like-minded researchers (if one does not know enough from the literature already). Online possibilities notwithstanding, humans prefer to interact with others whom they have met, so at least short visits are required. For me, in the early 2000s, securing funds for travel was the biggest obstacle to international collaboration. Nowadays, at least within Europe, there are enough opportunities to get funding to organize and attend conferences and meetings.  Now, probably my shyness is the biggest obstacle between me and contacting others across the globe.
Ádám Kun
Department of Plant Systematics, Ecology, and Theoretical Biology, Eötvös University, Budapest, 1117, Hungary.
E-mail: kunadam{at}

Global collaboration is crucial for advancing science in China, but it faces many challenges. Among them, the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration, in my view, is China's research culture. It values individualistic heroism rather than division of work—almost every academic member in China wants to play a major role, with few willing to do assisting research. It overemphasizes competition rather than advocates mutual benefit. It encourages the pursuit of short-term returns rather than long-term endeavors to form the foundation of effective collaboration. It compromises rather than promotes scientific integrity—unethical research behaviors, such as stealing ideas, make some researchers unwilling to effectively communicate and collaborate. These adverse effects are intensified by Chinese evaluation systems, which only value the contribution from first or corresponding authors, so it's difficult for many Chinese labs to work together, let alone collaborate internationally. To address this challenge, the first important step is to foster a healthy research culture, which encourages division of labor, a win-win strategy, the pursuit of solid and reliable research, and zero tolerance for unethical research behaviors. Furthermore, evaluation systems in China should help to breed a collaborative research culture by formally recognizing the intellectual contribution of each collaborator and encouraging not only cooperation between Chinese researchers and institutions but also international collaboration. Finally, we must bear in mind that too much collaboration will homogenize Chinese science. We should encourage young researchers to seek their own career path and make unique contribution rather than closely follow mainstream science.
Fengbo Li
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310021, China.
E-mail: fengboli{at}

Maintaining research participants' privacy is a huge and potentially insurmountable obstacle to global scientific collaboration. When a study's data are restricted to a physical lab space, old-fashioned locks and geography limits who can attempt to break in.  But when data are shared via email, in the cloud, or through online repositories in the spirit of global collaboration, they become vulnerable to unauthorized access or use from anywhere in the world. Even so-called "de-identified" data, which are stripped of personal identifiers such as names and birthdates, are vulnerable to privacy breaches. Researchers have shown in Science ( that some de-identified DNA sequences can be traced back to a donor's last name through the sequences themselves. In my field of cognitive neuroscience, MRI scans of participants' heads that are taken to measure brain anatomy can also be used to reconstruct someone's facial features. Some online repositories of MRI data stipulate that facial structures must be removed, but not all do. We may never be able to guarantee the security or anonymity of research data that are transmitted online. We can, however, make sure that our security measures are constantly updated in light of technological advances. Research protocols that were sufficient just a few years ago may fail under scrutiny today. Finally, we must be honest when seeking informed consent from our research participants. We should describe our efforts to protect their confidentiality but cannot promise that we can perfectly preserve their privacy.
Rosa Li
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

Data sharing among countries is the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration in Earth Science according to my experience in a Sino-German project. Data sharing is still a barrier to hinder the scientific collaboration for us though working in the same project. To address this issue, establishing some laws and policies of sharing data should be the first important step. This method can probably provide a sharing platform supported by governments in case of intergovernmental conflicts of interest about data security. Another approach to address the data-sharing problem is further setting up a criterion for collecting and sharing data. Partners can probably complete data sharing according to the protocol in this data sharing platform. Last but not least, providing specialized funds for data sharing can encourage collaborators to share their observation data to some extent.
Guilin Liu
Environmental Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics, Uni-Tirer, Trier, Rheinland-Pfalz, 54286, Germany.
E-mail: guilinshiwo{at}

Although scientists are considered international citizens, they are still bounded by rules and regulations implemented by funding agencies, research institutions, and political will of their nations. Scientific ideas are the sole intellectual property that scientists have with them for advancing their research careers. An inborn insecurity of scooping from the scientific world stops scientists from collaborating with other scientists working on similar problems. Scientific collaboration can be accelerated with a multidisciplinary approach for resolving an issue with an international initiative and political will for social betterment. In the present scenario, scientists can collaborate using virtual platforms such as collaboration success wizard, In4Grants, and VIVO for sharing research ideas and generating strategies for securing international grants. An international agenda for scientific collaboration is an immediate need to tackle over deadly diseases, environmental issues for providing food security, and healthy living for every citizen of the world. That's why I personally believe that every scientist-political partnership can tackle all issues that hinder scientific collaborations.
Ranjeet Singh Mahla
Department of Biology, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal, Govindpura, Bhopal, MP 462023, India.
E-mail: ranjeet{at}

With an increasing proportion of international scientific papers, science has become a global enterprise. The core scientific landscape (United States, Western Europe, Japan) has evolved in a multipolar grid driven by the emerging economy (Brazil, China, India). However, the imbalance between scientific hubs in their spending in R&D and infrastructure is still obvious and reveals that some countries and especially sub-regions are unprepared to face global challenges (food, climate change, health, water) and to adapt to the potential backlashes on their society (poverty, migration, conflict). The biggest challenge may be therefore to prioritize global collaboration in the less resilient regions by addressing global problems with the concern of their local manifestations. Instead of encouraging the brain drain, top world academics, funders, and researchers should collaborate to build scientific infrastructure in the less resilient regions not only to improve their self-ability to conduct, access, and use the best science but also to ensure that they can contribute to global scientific debates while developing local solutions with cost-effective, participatory, and sustainable strategies (including the reconnaissance and use of indigenous knowledge in some cases). Given the interconnectedness of global challenges, policy-makers must also build solid frameworks with human and financial support to coordinate multidisciplinary research to optimize local coherence, minimize duplication, and avoid maladapted practices. This framework should also assure access to the best data and equipment, provide mentoring, free access to scientific journals, and funds to publish in open-access journals and ultimately implement the network system needed for these countries to collaborate with others that may have similar challenges.
Nicolas Mansuy
Natural Resources Canada, Québec, QC, G1V 4C7, Canada.
E-mail: Nicolas.Mansuy{at}

Scientific collaboration on the global scale is necessarily fraught with challenges. Resources, communication, and awareness are often cited, but I think the most substantial hurdle to establishing international partnerships is trust. Distrust comes in many forms. It may be rooted in political disputes between countries, the competitive culture of publish-or-perish, or from intellectual disagreement. Competition and academic arrogance will always exist, but intergovernmental cooperation may be improved to promote scientific collaboration. Scientists are naturally distrusting. We submit to intense peer review and insist on reproducing results. Yet while the product of peer-reviewed science is considered trustworthy, the practice of science requires faith. In the lab, we rely on faithful recordkeeping and diligent lab mates. Domestic collaborations use legal measures to engender trust, namely contracts and patents. As our collaborations cross international boundaries, our enforceable systems of trust must also. Scientific endeavors require substantial investments. The investors are often national agencies that assume risk with benefits that may be tangible or not, financial or not. Whereas the humanitarian benefits of increasing our scientific knowledge are gradual and dispersed, the more immediate financial benefits are managed by patent systems. Patents are designed to reward researchers and their financiers for ingenuity and risk, but ultimately expire to allow dissemination of knowledge and promote further innovation. However, patent systems are enforceable only within the boundaries of the awarding territory. As we move toward a climate of global scientific cooperation there is a clear need for international intellectual property law. This will go a long way in protecting the interests of researchers, which will in turn accelerate the advancement of scientific knowledge, ultimately to the benefit of our civilization.
Joseph William Meisel
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO 63121, USA.
E-mail: jwm5hd{at}

A popular meme portrays a scientist as a girl with glasses and a lab coat, but the reality is that things have certainly changed in the field. Scientific research is now a conglomerate of suits, glutted with industrial ties and red taped by intellectual property (IP) and patents. Ideas, technologies, and even genes have lawful bans preventing further studies. Granted, thematic areas of the world hinders curiosity-fueled research and promotes product-driven focus, however the environment imposes competition, secrecy and a rat race upon on scientists. Therein lies the problem and preclusion of global scientific collaboration. Perhaps, closer to reality for me as a Ph.D. candidate in a developing country, is the fear of being "scooped" by research using advanced methodologies not yet available to us, which concomitantly decreases the scientific impact. However, the need for collaboration is fundamental to science as it allows ideas to be furthered and solutions to be channeled and implemented. One way to tackle the problem of global scientific collaboration should be the necessity for scientific consortiums within countries for which a specific research/product is directed. In this way, there is academic benefit to young scientists and the possibility of economic subsidy to research within that country. Furthermore, rules and regulations instilled by IPs and patents should grant leniency toward academics and allow for the possibility of joint research. Another solution, which is already implemented and should be commended, is exchange programs between universities especially between developing and developed countries furthering the careers of young scientists.
Ritesh Mewalal
Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng, 2, South Africa.
E-mail: jwm5hd{at}

Global collaboration that does not involve experimentation (reviewing literature, meta-analyses, analyzing databases) is relatively easier nowadays thanks to e-mails, cloud storage, and Skype conferences. I think global collaboration may become more challenging when material sharing for the experimental purpose is involved but nowadays anything can be delivered as long as the paperwork is cleared. Eventually, regardless of the collaboration scale, the most challenging issue in global collaboration is responsibility-sharing and commitment. It is important to discuss frankly and sort out clearly a realistic goal of the collaboration agenda, experiment framework, the cost involved, level of commitment, and the job distribution from the beginning so that there will be no misunderstanding, disappointment, and a waste of resources in the long run. Scientific excitement is not enough; global scientific collaboration needs trust and commitment just like any business partnership.
Theresia H. Mina
BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH16 4TJ, UK.
E-mail: T.H.Mina{at}

We need more travel funds for scientists in developing nations. Today's global scientific community is more connected than any other time in history. The technology available today allows for fast and reliable communication between scientists in different countries, which is essential for collaborative research projects. However, technology alone is not sufficient for sustainable global collaboration between laboratories and research institutions spread across the world. The critical element that is still needed is the personal interaction between scientists. The biggest challenge to collaboration is the cost of traveling for scientists to visit each other's labs and attend conferences on a regular basis. In particular, the costs associated with travel prevent many scientists in developing countries from visiting labs abroad, attending conferences, and teaching seminars. I think that more travel funds should be set up to increase the opportunities for scientists across the world to meet each other and develop close research and teaching collaborations. More important, more travel funds should be appropriated to student scientists that are currently in the pipeline to help them develop scientific relationships and collaborations early in their careers.
Fanuel Muindi
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.
E-mail: fmuindi{at}

Probably most young scientists, just like me, are lacking experience in global scientific collaboration. The biggest challenge for us is the lack of opportunity. Why is this? It all comes down to resources, time, and culture—i.e., how we use our limited resources in restricted time in our culture. To obtain funds for a real collaborative effort is much more difficult than traveling internationally. It is possible to get funding for international collaboration on "hot issue" projects, but it is hard for less prioritized research. We are all pushed for time and true collaboration takes extra time to establish. Also, we live in a culture where "going it alone" is respected in the scientific community. We work on our project independently; we are not even aware of the cooperative potential of the lab or institution next door, let alone globally. One way to turn the challenge into opportunity is to encourage young scientists to cooperate globally, provide the necessary resources (funds), and enable them time to build the collaboration. We would see better collaboration in the next generation. Another way is to change the way research is conducted at the graduate/undergraduate student level. Pairing up students for a thesis/dissertation or allowing three to four students to cooperate on a project will develop a culture of cooperation. It therefore takes an active shift in our culture to start collaborating domestically and globally. (The answer was developed after communication with my mentor Claude Boyd from Auburn and Scott Fendorf from Stanford.)
Ling Ou
Department of Crop Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695–7620, USA.
E-mail: lou2{at}

A principal challenge is the cultural differences between countries, meaning that legislature drawing on bioethics policy can differ substantially across countries. Hence, research that is possible in one location may not be possible in another, yielding ethical dilemmas for collaborations spanning these regions. Furthermore, global variations in academic institutions and promotion systems pose a serious challenge for sustaining globalized careers. International career mobility is not as efficient as it should be, especially in the case of the increasing number of interdisciplinary scientists who are embedded in a team science setting. Last but not least, we believe that global scientific collaboration cannot really flourish unless globally portable funding mechanisms are put into place. Much like how trade agreements contributed to a booming global trade, multilateral research grant agreements can catalyze a truly global research operation for the benefit of all. More specifically, multilateral jointly funded calls for proposals, focusing on multidisciplinary research where different countries have complementary strengths, not only will expand the science envelope, but will also promote science as a vessel for carrying forth a harmonious world.
Alexander Michael Petersen
Department of Economics and Institutional Change, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, Lucca, Tuscany, 55100, Italy.
E-mail: petersen.xander{at}

There is an under-appreciation of how cultural differences between scientists and countries influence the success of international scientific endeavors. In fact, international collaborations are often funded to explore specific scientific or conservation objectives in developing countries without first engaging in genuine dialogue with in-county scientists and/or communities to learn more about their perspectives and observations concerning their natural world. To engage in more prosperous international scientific collaborations, it would be valuable to have more funding opportunities that bring together researches from various countries so they can establish together scientific and conservation objectives for various regions of the world. The primary output of these collaborative meetings could be submission of traditional scientific proposals.
Thomas K. Pool
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98122, USA.
E-mail: tpool77{at}

Rapid communication, handling large data sets, language translation, and labor division—historical barriers to global scientific collaboration—have advanced thanks to software and social media. Today's challenges invoke the old scientific maxim "trust, but verify." Can my collaborators deliver? Who can access the resulting data? Will our intellectual property be protected? How we will share credit, authorship, or profits from any resulting inventions? Ethicists, legal professionals, and newly created "open science" industrial representatives are hard at work as I write, trying to create proper policies to answer these questions. These solutions can't come soon enough; trusted global partners give scientific projects a reach and breadth they could never achieve in a single company.
Michael A. Tarselli
Chemistry Information Systems, Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
E-mail: mike.tarselli{at}

The key to understanding human diversity is having access to biological samples from unique populations around the world. However, transporting precious samples across international borders is fraught with difficulties. Samples lose integrity if stored at improper temperatures or if delayed in customs. Such problems prevent global collaboration. I know researchers who have contemplated storing research specimens in lunchboxes to take when traveling by airplane in order to avoid exposing samples to conditions that might destroy them as well as complications in security. Although one possible solution is for samples to be analyzed on site, some countries may not have the infrastructure, appropriate research equipment, or technical knowledge to analyze the data. For example, inflammatory breast cancer is a very rare type of cancer found at a higher rate in Northern Africa where there are fewer scientists available to analyze the data. Researchers in the United States have tried collaborating by sending scientists to analyze samples on site, but collaboration could be improved if the sample could more easily be transported between countries. An international group should be created to supervise and expedite the shipment of valuable specimens across the globe. Quick access to biological samples from unique populations would substantially advance global collaboration and prevent the unnecessary waste of valuable data. Ultimately, having easy access to a wide array of specimens would accelerate our progress in curing human disease.
Lauren Van Wassenhove
Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94025, USA.
E-mail: ldvanwas{at}

In my opinion, to acknowledge the personality differences and therefore work efficiently with each other appears to be the most difficult part of collaboration. During collaboration, we rely on others and their expertise to solve challenging problems. However, our collaborator is not equivalent to a mere technical input or a component to obtain data according to a specific time line. They are unique and different people. It is sometimes easy for us ignore that everybody has different needs, priorities, and ways of working. Because of this human factor, trying to apply a standard formula to every collaboration is going to be difficult. Getting to know our collaborators in a more personal level might be a good starting point for solving the challenge. It is critical for us to understand how they communicate and work and then respect the differences. This is especially important for collaborators from different culture backgrounds. I myself experienced some struggles during my Ph.D study because it is common to criticize others directly in the United States, but in my family, a person is considered rude doing it without examining oneself first. Knowing this could help avoid unnecessary conflicts. Similarly, we also shouldn't expect other people to work the way we do. By respecting these differences, hopefully we can find a unique way to work with each collaborator and push the project forward. At the end, collaboration starts with people's kindness to help. People are what make the experience valuable.
Wei Wang
Department of Chemistry,  Oregon State University, Oregon State Univeristy, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
E-mail: wangwe{at}

I think national security is one of the biggest challenges to global scientific collaboration. Nowadays scientific research becomes more complicated and often reaches beyond geographical boundaries of individual countries. Global collaboration is required to incorporate intellects from different background, institutes, and countries. The trend of globalization for scientific research is increasingly obvious. However, most research is funded and administered by individual governments. Such research is presumed to contribute to national development and security. Once national security is considered to be threatened, international scientific cooperation cannot be achieved. For example, some human genomic studies involving different ethnicities from different countries need scientific collaboration. However, human genetic resource is very special. It is easy to obtain, but it may have potential threats to national security in the future. Governments may forbid export of human specimens to prevent this threat, thus causing abortion of genomic research cooperation. Another example is research related to advanced military technologies, which are critical to national defense. Funding departments often refuse international research collaboration in this field to protect confidential information. It is difficult to eliminate the negative impact of national security on global scientific collaboration. But someday we could establish an international administrative organization, like the United Nations, to coordinate and manage global scientific collaboration. Research will be funded, launched, and administered to address global issues for the interest of all human beings.
Wei Wang
Department of Urology, Fifth People's Hospital of Shanghai, Fudan University, Shanghai, Shanghai, 200240, China.
E-mail: ericwang79{at}

In my perspective, the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration is lack of funding for global issues, as individual national agencies often tend to allocate funds for scientific endeavors aimed at their specific national interests. Despite the tremendous growth in global collaborative efforts such as Human Genome Project and Human Frontier Science Program during past few decades, only about 30% of research output from the United States is internationally collaborative (Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century, 2011, The Royal Society). Allocation of more funding for scientific initiatives to solve global problems would be an attractive remedy to promote internationally collaborative research projects. Such research proposals should involve multiple geographical locations, a blend of scientists with variety of scientific expertise, a plethora of cutting edge research tools, and most important, the project should focus on solving critical issues relevant to all mankind. Global food crisis, prevention and cure for HIV/AIDS, development of renewable energy sources, and global warming are some of the crucial issues that can be addressed with immense international collaboration. As long as the question of interest of the research proposal is not specific to one nation, it will be easier to bring together scientists across the world with unique skills and expertise. International or federal agencies should encourage such collaborative efforts by providing plenty of funding sources and opportunities.
Dhanuka Pulasthi Wasalathanthri
Department of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
E-mail: dhanuka02{at}

Collaboration or competition—that is the question, particularly for telecommunication and wireless engineers. It's undoubtedly attractive to picture an "e-science" future, where the impacts of scientific research such as environmental climate change and genomic bioresearch are shared globally with spectrally efficient 100Gbps transmissions systems. However, industry partners are not philanthropic organizers. Service providers have fiscal responsibilities toward shareholders, and they also have the requirement to create novel ideas and pre-commercial products to fuel continued growth of their companies' own profits. Indeed, global collaboration is a necessity, not just a slogan, yet the coexisting competition is inevitable. Therefore, the biggest challenge to global scientific collaboration will be how to appropriately safeguard innovation and reward creativity—in other words, how to make jointly funded research more accountable to balance the interests of all parties. When industry is involved and intellectual property is at stake, it's indispensable to reach a clear understanding of the rights and obligations of all parties involved before the project begins. A formal global legal counsel with better professional indicators is crucial to properly provide system-level guidance and evaluate global science progress. International scientific organizations, such as AAAS or SPIE, should take the lead in harmonizing these structures in a very collaborative way, as well as the ethical norms and intellectual property policies that surround them, thus making science more accessible to laymen and policy-makers for a purer and standardized global research environment.
Yi Weng
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA 70504, USA.
E-mail: wengyi.201{at}

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. From the creation of nanoparticles to the exploration of the Outer Space, from the attenuation of oil production to the zoonotic disease epidemics, human beings has achieved great scientific advancements, but are currently facing unprecedented challenges. After conducting scientific investigations in four developing and developed countries, I consider sharing research resources, including funding, equipment, data, and talents, the grand challenge to global scientific collaboration. As an illustration, leishmaniases and other tropical diseases are often neglected due to the fact that the afflicted countries may not have adequate material or nonmaterial assets to support crucial scientific investigations, while researchers and funding agencies in the developed countries rarely feel the urgency to collaborate on such issues. Nevertheless, these diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, and have the potential to spread to the developed countries as well. To address this challenge, we need to establish coordinated resource-sharing policies and programs. We have to build global consortiums in all disciplines to ensure the availability of equipment and data to all researchers, including citizen scientists, who perform investigations of significance. Shared resources will synergize global efforts in tackling the major problems faced by mankind and expand the frontiers of human knowledge to the greatest extent. United we stand, divided we fall. The foundation of resource sharing platforms will empower us to resolve the most knotty issues, conclude the season of darkness, and welcome the dawn of the new global scientific collaboration.
Kun-Hsing Yu
Biomedical Informatics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
E-mail: khyu{at}

Long-term global scientific collaboration is still difficult. Currently, many different types of global scientific collaborations worldwide are short-term, such as collaborations in the writing and publication of a specific research paper or in a specific scientific project. The completion of a specific scientific project generally indicates the end of the collaboration. However, the current world is facing many great challenges and serious crisis, such as in energy and sustainable development, biology and medicine, as well as information and cyber security. These challenges and crises cannot be solved or alleviated by any one scientist or one country in a short time. Therefore, long-term global scientific collaboration is essential to deal with the many global challenges. To promote the formation of long-term global scientific collaboration and fully achieve its values, I think the following measures can be taken. First of all, research groups worldwide can work together to establish research centers or laboratories. These research centers or labs can be important platforms and carriers to facilitate long-term cooperation and collaborations. Then, the scientists from different countries can come to work in the research centers or labs regularly. Based on the research centers or labs, they can organize academic conferences or symposiums. Moreover, they can train graduate students jointly in the research centers or labs.
Kaile Zhou
School of Management, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, Anhui, 230009, China.
E-mail: kailezhou{at}