Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

A review of the literature

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Research Questions

  1. What are the patterns of international mobility for researchers, in academia and industry?
  2. What are the drivers and barriers of international researcher mobility?
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of international research mobility — for researchers, institutions, countries and the research system as a whole?

RAND Europe has been commissioned by the Royal Society to investigate the international mobility of researchers, with a particular focus on the UK. This work consists of two strands: a review of the existing literature and a survey of researchers currently based in the UK. This report details the findings of the survey, conducted in March 2017, which provides an up-to-date picture of patterns, drivers and barriers, and perceived outcomes of mobility amongst the current UK academic research workforce. It also aims to address some of the gaps in the existing evidence, particularly around the role of personal motivations, and the interplay of experiences, personal and professional circumstances, motivations and outcomes.

Key Findings

We received and analysed 1,285 responses, and identified the following key findings reflecting on the survey data in the light of the wider literature:

  • Most mobility to and from the UK is with a small set of western countries, and the US and Germany in particular.
  • Patterns of mobility differ by gender, discipline, nationality and career stage.
  • Professional motivations are the main drivers of mobility.
  • Researchers stay in the UK — and return to the UK — for a mix of personal and professional reasons.
  • Barriers to mobility depend on individual circumstances.
  • Benefits and disadvantages of mobility tend to align with motivations.
  • Most researchers feel that there is an expectation that good researchers are internationally mobile.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by the Royal Society and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.