The present politically correct consensus is that increased exchange of scientific insight, knowledge, practitioners and skills at the global level brings significant benefits to all. The quantifiable scientometric changes during the last decade, however, suggest that many areas of knowledge are evolving in the opposite direction. Despite an increase during the last decade of the numbers of journals and academic articles published, increases in the number of citations the published articles receive, and increases in the number of countries participating; important parts of the academic activity are becoming more nationalistic. In addition, international collaboration is decreasing in several subject areas, and in several geographic regions. For example, countries in Asia are becoming scientifically more isolated; and academics working in the humanities in all the regions of the world are very nationalistic and are becoming more so. The precise consequences of this dynamics are difficult to predict, but it certainly will have reverberations beyond academia. The tendency of the humanities to become more provincial will certainly not help in reducing international conflicts arising from poor understanding of cultural differences and of diverging sociopolitical world views. More and better data on these trends should give us a better understanding for eventually improving academic policies worldwide.
Is modern science evolving in the wrong direction?