The Impact of Research Collaboration on Scientific Productivity

by B Bozeman, S Lee


Abstract\nScientific collaboration often is viewed as a virtue, so much so that several public\npolicies actively encourage scientific collaboration at both the individual and institutional\nlevels. But few studies have actually examined the impacts of collaboration and fewer\nstill have related collaboration patterns to publishing productivity. Based on data from\n443 academic scientists, our research examines the effects of collaboration on scientists'\nproductivity, measured in terms of publications. We examine publications productivity by\ntwo measures, numbers of scientific articles and books published and "fractional count,"\nthe number adjusted by number of co-authors.\nWe first examine descriptive data for publishing productivity and find that mean\nnumber of publications (by both normal and fractional counts) grows substantially during\nthe past three decade among all groups to 3.6 (normal) and 1.28 (fractional) in 1996,\nactually declining somewhat between 1996 and 1999. Fractional and normal count\nproductivity is related to being male, tenured, married and, interestingly, being nonnative.\nThose in the chemistry discipline have an especially high productivity rate and\nthose in computer science publish at a much lower rate than other fields of science and\nengineering.\nThe descriptive data for collaboration show that the mean number of (self-defined)\ncollaborators for one year's research work is 13.8. On average, the collaborators are\n40.9% graduate students and 27.1% female (females are about 14% of the sample). On\naverage, scientists spend about 16% of their time working alone and the remainder\ncollaborating and more than half of the collaboration time is with those in one's own\nresearch group. We developed a "collaboration cosmopolitanism" scale to measure\ncollaboration outside one's own work group (e.g. persons in other universities, other\nnations) and found that physicists tend to be the most cosmopolitan in collaboration\npatterns. More cosmopolitan collaboration patterns are associated with being male, being\na tenured faculty member, and total number of publications since 1996 (normal count, not\nfractional count).

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