Submissions invited for ASIST Panel on Scientific Collaboration

Mari Davis M.Davis at UNSW.EDU.AU
Fri Dec 19 01:09:21 EST 2003

The International Society of Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI) in
association with ASIST Special Interest Group, SIGMetrics, is proposing a
Panel Session for the Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, US in
November. Please see the Abstract below this message.
We invite contributed papers to flesh out this discussion of scientific
collaboration. Panel Sessions are generally 2 hours -  consisting of the
Keynote paper and open discussion time that will each use about 20 minutes
and thus there is time for 4 further contributed papers of about 20 minutes
each. If you would like to contribute a paper or your ideas to this Panel
Session, please send an abstract by January 10th 2004 of approximately 250
words to the Moderator, Dr Mari Davis. (m.davis at All
contributions or other suggestions will be welcomed and acknowledged.

Mari Davis
Senior Research Fellow
Co-Director, Bibliometric & Informetric Research Group (BIRG)
School of Information Systems, Technology and Management
The University of New South Wales
Quadrangle Level 2
Sydney NSW 2052 Australia
Email: m.davis at
Web Site:
Tel: +61 2 9385 7127
Fax: +61 2 9662 4061
Apologies for crosss-posting.

Studying scientific collaboration: The potential and limitations of
scientometric methods.
ASIST Annual Conference, Providence, Rhode Island, November 13-18 2004:
"Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts"
Panel Session - International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics
(ISSI) in association with SIGMetrics.
Henry Small (US) - Keynote Speaker (ISSI President; ASIST Member);
Mari Davis (Australia) - Moderator (ISSI Board Member; ISSI Past President;
ASIST Member).
To form the panel, papers are being sought from at least one sociologist,
communication scholar, scientometrician, webometrician and one specialist
in mapping.

The goal of the panel is to seek the views of people engaged in examining
the nature and role of scientific collaboration from differing
perspectives, for example, from scientometrics-informetrics, sociology of
science, and social network analysis. The panel will explore aspects of
collaboration that can be successfully examined by quantitative methods and
will discuss ways of integrating such work with qualitative examinations of
the social aspects of scientific work. Scientific collaboration is one of
the major topics for science studies. It is a frequent and important
micro-event in science whose interlinking constitutes macroscopic patterns
in the form of social networks across fields, organizations and countries,
and in the form of structures in scientific knowledge. Research that meets
rigorous standards for scientific credibility is not the only factor
affecting the successful completion of projects; social arrangements and
negotiations surrounding collaboration also impact the conduct of
scientific research.
      Scientometric methods have contributed much to the identification and
understanding of these macrostructures; their unique capacity for
representing and analyzing knowledge structures is indispensable in
analyses of macrostructures and micro-macro links of scientific
collaboration. At the same time, scientometric methods are limited in the
features of scientific collaboration that they can depict and analyze. Such
methods rest on quantification, and are therefore restricted to
quantifiable aspects of collaboration such as co-authorships, citations,
affiliations etc. While scientometric methods can be used to investigate
causal relationships, they must be combined with other approaches when
causal mechanisms are to be investigated. That is why scientometric
analyses often lead to questions that cannot be answered by applying
scientometric methods, e.g. questions about causes, promoting and hindering
conditions of collaboration.
      Earlier work provides some interesting starting points for such a
discussion. Luukonen et al (1992) put forward some well-argued reasons to
explain aspects of international collaboration, such as size of scientific
nations, research costs and power relations. One of the questions, they
pose is: What role (precisely) does collaboration have in professional
achievement? Luukonen et al also suggest that there is a need for greater
understanding of the role and importance of national versus international
collaboration in various scientific fields. A recent article in JASIST
(Hara, Solomon, Kim and Sonnenwald 2003) investigated the challenges that
emerge in establishing scientific collaboration. Laudel (2002) delineates
six types of collaboration, and indicates that the way of rewarding
collaborative contributions varies between these types. Many forms of
collaboration are not reflected by formal communication, that is,
collaboration is not always visible or measurable through co-authorship.
The by-line assessment of collaborative work reflects only co-authorship
rather than the full effects of scientific collaboration (Laudel 2001).
      Attention needs to be given to integrating scientometric data with
evidence about the dynamics of the social aspects of scientific work.
Social aspects that affect the outcomes of scientific collaboration include
the nature of social relations among peers and colleagues, the building of
social networks within institutions and their staff, with people in
positions of influence within disciplines and fields who shape policy and
acceptance of science projects, and with government and ministers who
create policies of support and funding mechanisms for science, among
others. As shown in studies by Mulkay et al (1975), Latour (1987), Latour
and Woolgar (1986), new sources of ideas and information are in part
socially derived and, of necessity, shared among scientists at the
forefront of their fields. Fluid interactions within and across various
social boundaries have to be negotiated and managed for science projects to
achieve success. The concept of the common social project, defined as the
construction of a research program that embodies the goals, needs,
interests or aspirations of actors within a network, is one framework for
analyzing collaborative research enterprises that feature a heightened
sense of shared social purpose as well as more regular and intense contact
(Blume 1987).
      For this Session sponsored by ISSI and SIG-Metrics, two sets of
questions are posed. The first set concerns methodological problems of
investigating collaboration such as:
* What scientometric indicators can be used in the investigation of
* What can we do with the 'classical' co-authorship indicator, and which
other indicators exist or can be thought of?
* What is the possible contribution of mapping to the analysis of
* What does the aggregation of collaborative ties for organizations, fields
and countries mean? How can it be interpreted, given the fact that
countries don't collaborate, and that organizations collaborate in a sense
different from that of 'direct' scientific collaboration?
* What is the possible contribution of web indicators to the analysis of
A second set of questions concerns theoretical and political issues arising
from studies on collaboration:
* Where to publish interdisciplinary work?
* To whom should credit be given for collaborative work (given that both
full and fractional counts assume equal contributions of all collaborators,
which is obviously wrong)?
* Why is collaborative work cited more often than non-collaborative work?
Other questions relevant to this discussion might include:
* Has the current emphasis on research collaboration led to greater
efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation in science?
* Is there any agreement on how to categorize collaboration for
examination? For example, some forms of collaboration are difficult to
measure quantitatively.
* Is there evidence that the emphasis on interdisciplinary solutions to
problems provides the impetus for collaboration?
* To what extent do government policies and funding directives influence
the rate of collaboration?
* What are the geographical and interpersonal boundaries of collaboration?
* Is face-to-face interaction between members of the group necessary for
* How much collaborative work is primarily conducted through electronic
communication media?
* Are there differences in collaborative work negotiated solely through
electronic communication media to that conducted in teams that meet
frequently or work together in neighboring labs?

Blume, Stuart S. (1987). 'Theoretical significance of cooperative research'
in Blume, Stuart; Bunders, Joske; Leydesdorff, Loet; Whitley, Richard eds.
The Social Direction of the Public Sciences: Causes and Consequences of
Co-operation between Scientists and Non-scientific Groups. Dordrecht, D.
Reidel Publ.Co., 1987.:3-38.

Haro, N., Solomon, P., Kim, S-L., Sonnenwald, DH (2003). An emerging view
of scientific collaboration: Scientists' perspectives on collaboration and
factors that impact collaboration. Journal of the American Society for
Information Science and Technology. 54(10): 952-965.

Latour, Bruno (1987). Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and
Engineers Through Society.  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Latour, Bruno, Woolgar, Steve (1979/1986). Laboratory Life: the
Construction of Scientific Facts. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press.

Laudel, G. (2001) Collaboration, creativity and rewards: why and how
scientists collaborate. International Journal of Technology Management.

Laudel, Grit (2002). What do we measure by co-authorships? Research
Evaluation. 11(1):3-15.

Luukonen, Terttu, Perrson, Olle, and Sivertson, Gunnar (1992).
'Understanding patterns of international scientific collaboration',
Science, Technology, & Human Values. 17(1):101-126

Mulkay, M., Gilbert, G.N., Woolgar, S. (1975). Problem areas and research
networks in science. Sociology. 9:187-203.

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