In this issue of Breathe, we focus in particular on networks that have been established within the respiratory field. Medical research networks are vital to the sharing and dissemination of knowledge and learning resources. They also serve to bring together workers in the same field, but from different geographical areas, to share techniques and interests in order to enable relevant and cost-effective research. Incorporation of health professionals and scientists from other specialised fields additionally enhances the quality of work, helps to clarify mechanisms and interpret results, and increases the overall impact of the work conducted. We are all most likely aware of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (http://goldcopd.org/program), Global Initiative for Asthma (http://ginasthma.org) and European Sleep Apnoea Database [1] networks, but some others may lie further from our day-to-day scope. In this issue, we feature an excellent overview of respiratory networks [2], an introduction to European Multicentre Bronchiectasis Audit and Research Collaboration [3], and a review on how patients and service users contribute to the success of such a network [4]. The Tuberculosis Network European Trials Group will be known to many of you and the Global Lung Function Initiative is leading the way in establishing population norms in spirometry across the globe in an extremely pragmatic and cost-effective manner (look out for the online exclusive articles on these networks). Any members who are interested in contributing or participating are more than welcome to contact the authors!