For Immediate Release
Supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, the study shows that the number of collaborators is the strongest predictor of a scientists productivity -- as measured by books and scholarly papers published.
For many years, people have been trying to encourage collaboration, but we havent had much research that actually demonstrates a beneficial effect on productivity, said Barry Bozeman, Regents Professor of Public Policy at Georgia Tech and lead author of the study. Since developing and maintaining collaborations requires time, there is always a question about whether the benefits of collaboration outweigh the costs. The work weve done suggests that the benefits of collaboration are great, and that collaboration is one of the best predictors of publishing productivity."
Bozeman and doctoral student Sooho Lee based their conclusions on surveys returned by 437 academic scientists and engineers working at major research centers in the United States. They also used curriculum vitae (CV) provided by the same set of scientists and engineers to help obtain measures of collaboration and productivity.
The study relates the number of books and refereed journal articles published by each of the respondents over a five-year period to the number of collaborators, considering not only the total number of books and papers, but also a fractional count in which each publication was assigned a score based on the number of authors. Bozeman and Lee also looked at other factors related to publishing productivity, including scientists rank, age, gender, collaboration strategies and job satisfaction.
The impacts of collaboration on publishing productivity are substantial, said Bozeman. Collaboration plays a larger role in scientific publishing productivity than many other significant factors.
The study, The Impact of Research Collaboration on Scientific Productivity, was presented February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Denver, CO. It was part of a session, Life of Science: Scientific Collaboration in Transition.
Among other findings:
The study also examined the reasons that led scientists to form collaborative relationships.
Sometimes people collaborate because others are close by, Bozeman said. Sometimes they collaborate because they have complementary skills, because they are trying to gain access to specialized equipment, share grant money or attach themselves to a colleagues scientific reputation.
In a related study referenced in the AAAS paper, Bozeman and Elizabeth Corley a recent Georgia Tech School of Public Policy PhD graduate, now a professor at Columbia University examined another type of collaboration: mentoring. In these relationships, senior scientists collaborate with junior faculty members and students, not to advance their own work, but to help those building new careers.
Scientists who were mentors tended to be tenured, Bozeman noted. People are able to be a little less self-interested if they are tenured. We also found that the people who were most likely to collaborate with junior faculty and students were also more likely to collaborate with women scientists.
The mentoring study has been accepted for publication in the journal
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