The Royal Society just came out with a report on the internationalization (if that's a word) of science. China now produces the second-highest number of papers, but rates last in percent of papers involving international collaboration. Why so little collaboration? Three hypotheses:
1) the rest of the world doesn't realize all the great science they're doing in China, so is missing out on opportunities to collaborate with excellent researchers,
2) Chinese scientists are doing great work, but are reluctant to collaborate with outsiders,
3) the average quality of science in China is less than you would expect from the number of papers.
These aren't mutually exclusive and there could be other possibilities. In any case, increased emphasis on science in China seems like a good thing, for various reasons, while I worry that budget constraints (and politics) may hurt science in the US.
The Royal Society report also shows that papers with authors from more countries get cited more. Three of the six papers I've published so far this year (and one we're submitting this week) have authors from 2 or more countries, but all three were review articles. So collaboration mainly involved emailing manuscripts back and forth. Collaborations involving experiments in two or more countries seem trickier.
Apart from airplanes, parcel express, and email, can any of you recommend tools useful for remote collaboration? Seems like being able to see the same data that's on collaborators' computer screens while talking over an audio connection would be useful. Are there better options for this than Skype's "share screen" mode (which seems to have some limitations)?