Network Structure, Self-Organization and the Growth of International Collaboration in Science

Wagner, Caroline S.
Leydesdorff, Loet
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Using data from co-authorships at the international level in all fields of science in 1990 and 2000, and within six case studies at the sub-field level in 2000, different explanations for the growth of international collaboration in science and technology are explored. We find that few of the explanations within the literature can be supported by a detailed review of the data. To enable further exploration of the role of recognition and rewards as ordering mechanisms within the system, we apply new tools emerging from network science. These enquiries shows that the growth of international co-authorships can be attributed to self-organizing phenomenon based on preferential attachment (searching for recognition and reward) within networks of co-authors. The co-authorship links can be considered as a complex network with sub-dynamics involving features of both competition and cooperation. The analysis suggests that the growth of international collaboration is more likely to emerge from dynamics at the sub-field level operating in all fields of science, albeit under institutional constraints. Implications for the management of global scientific collaborations are explored.
Physics - Physics and Society