EUSN2016: Exchange networks in science – what do scholars exchange and how do they do it?

2nd European Conference on Social Networks

The main aim of the paper is discussing the exchange processes in collaboration ego-networks among scientists. On some fundamental level, we can think of scholars as actors possessing, or controlling, various types of resources. These resources can be roughly grouped into the following categories: human capital resources including skills and knowledge; social capital resources including social status and social connections to other researchers; financial capital resources including access to and control of research funds. Desirability and uneven distribution of these resources between different scholars create opportunities for collaboration that take the form of exchange. Previous research has developed general rules for exchange: behaviour is motivated by the desire to increase gain and to avoid loss, exchange relations develop in structures of mutual dependence, actors engage in recurrent, mutually contingent exchanges with specific partners over time, valued outcomes obey the economic law of diminishing marginal utility. However, it does not take into consideration types of resources, which are substantial for understanding scientific collaboration networks. Based on 30 IDI conducted with Polish scholars we show what resources are a subject of exchange; what are the motivation to initiate and engage in exchange; what are the norms regulating the exchange of different types of resources?

Presentation in PDF: Exchange networks in science – what do scholars

Ego-networks: examples from the field

The second wave of qualitative interviews focuses on ego-networks. We have decided to collect information in the traditional manner without using any dedicated software. There are several reasons behind it. Firstly, interviews are conducted on the field, which means that we may not have access to electricity, internet connections, and conditions to display the ego-network on the computer screen or tablet. Secondly, respondents vary in their digital skills. It might unexpectedly influence how many collaborators they would mark and how they connect them. Thirdly, available cloud solutions, although very portable, would leave beyond our control important information disclosing who our respondents are.

Therefore, we use the simple technique based on post-it cards, drawing pins, rubber bands, and cork pin-boards. We also experimented with pencils and paper; however, it was messy, and respondents were discouraged with hands covered in colourful ink. It even looked like they were trying to hide it after realising they were dirty.

During the second attempt, we used post-it cards, drawing pins, rubber bands and cork pin-boards. We let respondents to pin all the names and relations. However, one needs some skills and experience to do it dexterously (e.g. know how flexible the rubber bands are), and it took too much time.  We came to the conclusion that it would be the most efficient to leave it to interviewers.

Eventually it is the interviewer who is responsible for managing cards, drawing pins, and rubber bands on the board with the instructions from respondents, although the general idea behind the corkboard often catches quickly and interviewees tend to actively help with proper reflection of their collaboration network. Such networks also facilitate the talk and allow us to obtain additional qualitative information.

Two examples of ego-networks reconstructed during the interviews below (egos are in the middle; names of collaborators are hidden):

PhD in social science
PhD in social science
Habilitated doctor in the humanities
Habilitated doctor in the humanities

Some new presentations

With last few weeks the website of the RECON project have been updated. Among other things, we have uploaded a couple of presentations that were given in 2014 in 2015. Below is a short list. See the Publications page on RECONs webpage for a complete list with abstracts.

  • Czerniawska D., Fenrich W., Bojanowski M. (2015), How does scholarly cooperation occur and how does it manifest itself? Evidence from Poland Presentation at ESA 2015 conference. PDF slides
  • Czerniawska D. (2015), Paths to interdisciplinarity: How do scholars start working on the edges of disciplines? Presentation at ‘What makes interdisciplinarity work? Crossing academic boundaries in real life’ Ustinov College, Durham University. HTML slides
  • Fenrich W., Czerniawska D., Bojanowski M. (2015) The story behind the graph: a mixed method study of scholarly collaboration networks in Poland. Presentation at Sunbelt XXXV. HTML slides

Praktyki w ICM – oferta

ICM, jak co roku, organizuje praktyki dla studentów. W tym roku poszukuję osoby, która byłaby zainteresowana pracą nad stworzeniem aplikacji umożliwiającej interaktywną wizualizację danych sieciowych. Oferujemy pracę w młodej i dynamicznej grupie badaczy sieci oraz nawiązanie kontaktów z zagranicznym zespołem naukowym. Wymagania (pierwsze jest warunkiem koniecznym, pozostałe będą dodatkowymi atutami):
  • Programowanie w R
  • Programowanie w JavaScript
  • Tworzenie aplikacji Shiny
  • Znajomość biblioteki D3js
  • Znajomość metod Social Network Analysis (SNA)
Jeżeli jesteś zainteresowany, wypełnij formularz na stronie ICM! Mój temat ma numer 22.

Slides from Sunbelt 2014 talk on collaboration in science

Here are the slides from my Sunbelt 2014 talk on collaboration in science. I talked about:

  • Some general considerations regarding collaboration or the lack of it. I have an impression that we are quite good at formulating arguments able to explain why people would like to collaborate. It’s much less understood why we do not observe as much collaboration as those arguments might suggest.
  • Some general considerations about potential data sources and their utility for studying collaboration and other types of social processes among scientists. In particular, I believe this can be usefully framed as a network boundary problem (Lauman & Marsden, 1989).
  • Finally, I showed some preliminary results from studying co-authorship network of employees of the University of Warsaw. Among other things, we see quite some differences between departments in terms of propensity to co-author (also depending on the type of co-authored work) and network transitivity.

Comments welcome.