Science Diaspora Networks: A Report on Their Goals, Functions, and Future

Dorothy Butler, Barbara Del Castello, Steve Elliott, Elana Goldenkoff, Isabel Warner, and Alessandra Zimmermann

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Cite as: Butler, Dorothy, Barbara Del Castello, Steve Elliott, Elana Goldenkoff, Isabel Warner, and Alessandra Zimmermann. (2022). Science Diaspora Networks A Report on their Goals, Functions, and Futures. National Science Policy Network Report.


A science diaspora network generally is a collection of emigrant researchers who share a country or region of origin and who interact with each other, often in a shared host country or region. Increasingly, networks are managed by formal organizations. Examples include the Swedish Trans-Atlantic Researchers and Scholars Network or the Queensland Chinese Association of Scientists and Engineers. Researchers are starting to document how these networks operate and the impacts they have on their members, policies, and diplomacy. To develop that knowledge, there is an opportunity for more systematic, wide ranging, and comparative studies of science diaspora networks. This report details results from the first mid-scale interview study of managers for science diaspora networks spanning a sizable set of countries. The report first provides a conceptual framework for characterizing networks and their managing organizations. Second it characterizes the organizational and management structures for 21 sampled network organizations. Third it documents how managers for those 21 networks conceptualize network successes, current challenges, future goals, and relations to science diplomacy. It closes with recommendations for network managers, external funders or supporters, and for further research. This report will interest those who participate in, manage, fund, or otherwise support science diaspora networks, including policy makers. It will also interest those who aim to study or better understand science diplomacy, scientific organizations, and researcher migration.


In 2020, the National Science Policy Network’s (NSPN) launched the Science Diplomacy Exchange and Learning (SciDEAL) program. In 2021 SciDEAL convened a team to study the structures, functions, and success criteria for science diaspora networks. The study was conducted between March of 2021 and February 2022, and the report was published in September 2022.

Also by this authorship team:

The Need for American Scientific Diaspora Networks

Warner, Isabel, Elana Goldenkoff, Barbara Del Castello, Dorothy Butler, Steve Elliott, and Alessandra Zimmermann. (2022). "The Need for American Scientific Diaspora Networks." Journal of Science Policy & Governance 20 (3): Part of a special issue about innovations in science diplomacy.


Recognize and Alleviate a Resource Management Conundrum Facing Science Diaspora Networks

Butler, Dorothy L., Barbara Del Castello, Steve Elliott, Elana R. Goldenkoff, Isabel A. Warner, and Alessandra C. Zimmermann. (2022). "Recognize and Alleviate a Resource Management Conundrum Facing Science Diaspora Networks." Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics 39: Part of a special section about science diaspora networks.