Modes of Collaboration in Modern Science: Beyond Power Laws and Pref Attach…

*Modes of Collaboration in Modern Science:*

*Beyond Power Laws and Preferential Attachment*

*Staša Milojevi*



The goal of the study was to determine the underlying processes leading to the observed collaborator distribution in modern scientific fields, with special attention to non power-law behavior. Nanoscience is used as a case study of a modern interdisciplinary field and its coauthorship network for 2000–2004 period is constructed from the NanoBank database. We find three collaboration modes that correspond to three distinct ranges in the distribution of collaborators: (1) for authors with fewer than 20 collaborators (the majority) preferential attachment does not hold and they form a log-normal “hook”
instead of a power law; (2) authors with more than 20 collaborators benefit from preferential attachment and form a power law tail; and (3) authors with between 250 and 800 collaborators are more frequent than expected because of the hyper authorship practices in certain subfields.

modes of collab Milojevic 2010.pdf
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“Innocentive” – a web based “open innovation” tool to facilitate problem solving and facilitate recruitment.

Companies contract with Innocentive as “seekers” to post R&D challenges. scientists register as “solvers” to review challenges and submit solutions online. The Company then reviews submissions and selects the best solution and awards the winning scientist / solver.

Over 1000 challenges posted to date… over 5 Million $$$ awarded!

Getting cozy to advance science….

“Relationship building key social convention for scientists and social scientists”
Ryan. C. etal.
Valgen Policy Brief 2009

“GE3LS research on agriculture and agro-industrial products is located in the ‘fuzzy’ territory of academic inter-disciplinarily and is often a collaboration and exchange with the public and private sectors. How GE3LS researchers construct their research community through networking and knowledge exchange remains an important research question in its own right, one with implications for knowledge mobilisation of GE3LS and science and technology research.”

work alone and “double the pains…”?

I draw on Michael P. Farrell’s book entitled on Collaborative Circles: friendship dymanics and creative work. He refers to the study that Henry James conducted on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s life. James characterized Hawthorne as isolated and secluded during key points in his life and career and argues that this isolation delayed his development as a writer.

“The best things come…from the talent that are members of a group; every man works better when he has companions working in the same line, and yielding to the stimulus of suggestion, comparison, emulation. Great things have of course been done by solitary workers, but they have usually been done with double the pains they would have cost if they had been produced in more genial circumstances.”

(excerpt from Hawthorne by James 1909, page 31).

Words to live by, I’d argue. Working from home has both benefits and costs.

Balance, Grasshopper, balance!


Notes on collaboration in scientific communities…

“Several explanations have been given for the increase in coauthorship over time (Laband and Tollison 2000; McDowell and Michael 1983). Funding requirements, particularly in large lab settings, might induce collaboration (Laband and Tollison 2000; Zuckerman and Merton 1973). While social scientists are rarely as dependent on labs, the rise of large-scale data collection efforts suggests a similar team-production model. Training differences between disciplines might also account for coauthorship differences. Advanced work by PhD students in the natural sciences is usually closely related to an advisor’s work, and commonly results in collaboration. Social science students, in contrast, tend to work on projects that are more independent.” (Moody 2004 (American Sociological Review; volume 69: 217)

In the Canadian context…
“…a number of SSH disciplines have more paradigms competing with one another than do those in the NSE, and as a result SSH literature is more fragmented – a situation that hinders the formation of a solid “core” of scientific journals –, thereby making article-based bibliometric analysis more difficult to conduct successfully.” (Larivière etal 2006; Scientometrics (60;3): 521).

“…According to MOODY (2004), the collaboration rate for books is generally lower than that for articles. Therefore scholarly articles are a more informative medium for analysing collaboration not only in the natural sciences but also in the social sciences and humanities, although we must be careful not to generalize the results to all scholarly research output.” (Larivière etal 2006; Scientometrics (60;3): 521).

“The collaborative activities of Canadian scholars, as measured by the number of joint publications, are increasing in both the NSE and the SSH. There is also an upward trend in international collaboration. However, the rate of growth is not the same across all disciplines. While rates for all types of collaboration in the social sciences rose steadily since 1980, collaboration rates for the humanities remained unchanged in a number of cases. Overall, psychology and economics and administration were the disciplines with the strongest collaboration, followed by social sciences, education, and law. In the humanities, history was the discipline in which collaborative activities were most frequent, but the rate remains very low. In the humanities and literature, formal collaboration based on co-authorship is a marginal phenomenon. Not surprisingly, the disciplines with the highest collaboration rates are, in general, the ones in which journal articles are the main medium of knowledge dissemination.” (Larivière etal 2006; Scientometrics (60;3): 531).