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The Impact of U.S.-China Tensions on U.S. Science

This paper studies how recent investigations of foreign influence in research have affected the focus and productivity of U.S. scientists in the field of life sciences. Using data from PubMed and Dimensions during 2010–2020, we examine scientists who had collaborations with China during 2010–2014 and compare them to those without such collaborations. By comparing the publication records of these two groups during 2015–2020, we find that the investigations coincide with a decline in the productivity of  scientists with previous collaborations with scientists in China, especially when the quality of publications is considered.  We also document a shift in publication topics.  These results demonstrate important consequences of international tensions on scientific production, some of which may be unexpected by policymakers.