University-level Science & Technology Collaboration between the US and Russia

Stanford US-Russia Forum

The Stanford US-Russia Forum (SURF) is a Stanford University led intiative dedicated to bringing university students from the United States and Russia together to address issues pertaining to the bilateral relationship between the two countries, and fostering a better relationship between the two countries.

I was an American delegate in this Forum in 2016-17 in the Science, Technology and Engineering Working Group, where I partnered with two fellow delegates, Ekaterina Paramanova and Daria Stepanova, to understand how university-level collaboration takes place between the US and Russia, what are the key challenges, and how to best address these challenges. A short description of our findings are given below.

Project Description

Russia and the United States have had a long history of science and technology due to their world-class research institutions and laboratories. Why is it then that the United States and Russia academics do not collaborate with each other as much as they do with academics of other countries? Which fields have seen the most collaboration, and which fields show the most promise? Who are the main stakeholders in the US-Russia enterprise? And finally, what can be done to stimulate new collaborations between the two countries? These are the questions we sought to answer in our project.

What is Scientific Collaboration?
For our research purpose, we defined a successful scientific collaboration as a co-publication between a US-based academic and a Russia-based academic, i.e. if a peer-reviewed publication has at least one author whose address is based in the US and at least one author whose address is based in the Russian Federation, then that co-publication as a scientific collaboration. We note that this definition excludes collaborations that may not typically public papers in the public domain (e.g. policy whitepapers).

We chose this definition because it is easy to quantify scientific and academic collaborations and we can use the power of quantitative analysis to infer trends. Moreover, a peer-reviewed publication only takes place at the culmination of a successful project, thus bibliometrics (number of publications) would also implicitly allow us to see the trend of “successful” collaboration over the years.

We chose to use InCites, a web-platform of Clarivate Analytics (formerly the IP & Science business wing of Thomson Reuters), to obtain our dataset because InCites has access to databases such as Web of Science that indexes almost all the major journals around the world. Furthermore, we considered data from 1997 through 2015 because Web of Science and InCites started fully indexing all the major journals at the beginning of late 1990s.