President Donald Trump's executive order banning U.S. entry of citizens from seven nations is on hold, but perhaps not for long. The travel ban, meant to last for 90 days as visa vetting procedures were overhauled, roiled students and researchers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A court last month overturned it, but Trump has vowed to issue a streamlined order.
Just how many scientists from each country might be hit? Iran, with its large academic community, seemed likely to top the list, an impression borne out by new analyses of publications and mobility data from Elsevier's SciVal and Scopus databases (below) and Science's own analysis of data from ORCID, a nonprofit with rich data about scientists' professional affiliations (below). Iran's collaborations with U.S. scientists are nearly on par with Ireland's and "are quite diverse," notes Elsevier's Martin Edling Andersson in Amsterdam, who helped compile the data.
Homes away from home
Where do researchers from the seven banned nations go? For most of the countries, the United States and United Kingdom are top draws.
Made with the USA
Two scientific powerhouses—China and the United Kingdom—co-authored the largest numbers of publications with the United States, but Iran ranks highly, considering how heavily the country has been sanctioned in recent years. Weighting citations by field revealed that Iran-U.S. collaborations in medicine and computer science had the highest impact, on average. Sudan’s high citation count is due largely to papers on humanitarian crises in Darfur and South Sudan.
A potent Persian diaspora
Since 1996, scholars who list Iranian affiliations on publications have flocked to the United States and other countries. For this analysis, overseas stints are classified as “transitory”—shorter than 2 years—or as longer, “migratory” stays.