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Border clampdown could disrupt web of collaborations

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.

Iran Iraq Libya Somalia Sudan Syria Yemen France India Canada U.S. Kenya Egypt U.K. Malaysia Other Uganda South Africa
(Graphics)G. Grullón/Science; (Data)ORCID

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.

5 million 500,000 50,000 5000 500 50 5 0 Citations 1 10 100 1000 10,000 100,000 Somalia Yemen Libya Sudan Iraq Iran Japan China Martinique Cuba Maldives Canada Turkmenistan U.K. Data median U.K. South Africa Bahamas Bahamas Syria Syria EU Travel ban target countries Asia Other Africa North America EU countries 5 million 5000 0 1 10 100 1000 10,000 100,000 Malta Germany Ireland Middle Eastern countries 5 million 5000 0 1 10 100 1000 10,000 100,000 Bahrain Turkey Israel Iran
(Graphics)G. Grullón/Science; (Data)Elsevier’s SciVal and Scopus database

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.

Iran-affiliated active researchers who migrated 20,351 of 59,870(1996–Present) Migratory 6675 Transitory 13,676 Transits out of Iran To U.S. 1516 To elsewhere 2545 From U.S. 429 From elsewhere 2185 Based mainly in U.S. 2902 Based mainlyelsewhere 3888 Went to U.S. 1608 Went elsewhere 5278 Out of Iran Into Iran 2614 Transits to Iran 6790 6886 4061
(Graphics)G. Grullón/Science; (Data)Elsevier’s Scopus database