Sunbelt XXXV, Brighton
June 25, 2015

Social organization of science

  • Scientists compete and collaborate on various dimensions.
    • Doing research together
    • Compete for funding
    • Training
  • Research on collaboration in science dominated by the bibliometric perspective
    • Scientometrics (de Solla Price and followers)
    • Co-authorship networks

What's the story behind the co-authorship graph?

Research questions

  • What are the structures of scientific teams?
  • What are the factors influencing the structure of team collaboration networks?
    • Scientific discipline/interdisciplinarity
    • Location (center vs periphery)
    • Scientific degree/career stage of a team leader
    • Gender
    • Research team management and network strategies
    • Ongoing institutional reform

Mixed methods design

Qualitative data collection and analysis

First qualitative study:

  • Semi-structured IDI
  • 30 interviews
  • 4 academic centers: two major and two peripheral
  • Scholars with diverse professional experience

Reconstructing team collaboration networks of respondents

Close collaborators: network types

Network 1 Network 2 Network 3
Gender Female Male Male
Location Peripheral Peripheral Central
Department rank B B A+
Disciplin Humanities Managment Molecular biology
Scientific degree Habilitate Habilitate Habilitate

Legend to graphs

Close collaborators: power relations

Teams lead by men are more hierarchical

Ego-networks: hierarchy and resources

Team leader scientific degree does not seem to diversify the network structure.

       PhD               PhD              Habilitate             PhD           

Position in organizational hierarchy vs control of resources (e.g. own grants).

Ego-networks: disciplinary differences

Similar structures in different disciplines

Mathematic, Mechanics, Media studies, Chemistry/pharmacy

Ego-networks: center vs periphery

External vs internal collaborations

Managing a team: complete hierarchy

The leader does not allow for direct collaboration between team members.

Managing a team: team as a whole

Team enters collaborative relations as a whole.

Managing a team: ties for others

The leader organizes external collaboration for individual team members.

Summary: close collaborators

  • Power relations depend on leader's gender.
  • Not important:
    • Discipline
    • Location
    • Department rank
    • Gender

Summary: full ego-networks

  • Being able to control resources gives independence from institutional hierarchies.
  • Similar structures in different disciplines.
  • Internal collaboration more frequent in peripheral centers.
    • Unless team leader has prior international experience
  • Different network strategies of team leaders.
  • Alter-alter ties: visible effects of different network strategies of team leaders.

Collaboration vs Coauthorship

On the agenda

Other research questions:

  • What are the individual motivations behind forming particular relations?
  • What is the role of professional biographies in forming collaboration ties?
  • Understanding networking strategies behind team formation.

Input for other studies:

  • Agent-based models informed by qualitative studies (micro-macro link).
  • Follow-up qualitative study planned for 2016.


Dominika Czerniawska d.czerniawska(at)

Wojciech Fenrich w.fenrich(at)

Micha Bojanowski m.bojanowski(at)