Multinational teams and diseconomies of scale in collaborative research.
Bottom Line: We also examined citation outcomes of research teams and confirmed the accumulative benefits of having additional authors and unique countries involved.However, when per capita citation rates were analyzed to disambiguate the effects of authors and countries, decreasing returns in citations were noted with increasing authors among large research teams.In contrast, an increasing number of unique countries had a persistent additive citation effect.
Affiliation: Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Collaborative research has become the mainstay in knowledge production across many domains of science and is widely promoted as a means of cultivating research quality, enhanced resource utilization, and high impact. An accurate appraisal of the value of collaborative research efforts is necessary to inform current funding and research policies. We reveal contemporary trends in collaborative research spanning multiple subject fields, with a particular focus on interactions between nations. We also examined citation outcomes of research teams and confirmed the accumulative benefits of having additional authors and unique countries involved. However, when per capita citation rates were analyzed to disambiguate the effects of authors and countries, decreasing returns in citations were noted with increasing authors among large research teams. In contrast, an increasing number of unique countries had a persistent additive citation effect. We also assessed the placement of foreign authors relative to the first author in paper bylines of biomedical research articles, which demonstrated a significant citation advantage of having an international presence in the second-to-last author position, possibly occupied by foreign primary co-investigators. Our analyses highlight the evolution and functional impact of team dynamics in research and suggest empirical strategies to evaluate team science.
No MeSH data available.
Mentions: In examining global changes in research behavior, we found that the ratio of authors and countries to publications in all research fields has steadily risen over time with a marked surge apparent by the 2000s (Fig. 1A). Grouping publications by categories of author team sizes demonstrated the waning dominance of small team (composed of two to four authors) publications and a rapid decline in the proportion of single-authored works (Fig. 1B). This was contrasted by an increase in the fraction of papers attributed to medium team (composed of five to eight authors) and large team (composed of more than eight authors) papers. An analogous dissection of publications by categories of country team sizes showed a preponderance of single-country publications that has steadily diminished, an increase in the proportion of small country team (composed of two countries) research, and seemingly marginal changes in the proportion of medium (composed of three to four countries) and large country teams (composed of more than four countries) (Fig. 1B). Similar results were seen in the subset analyses of papers that had been sorted into technology and engineering, physical, life, social, and arts disciplines with some caveats (fig. S1). In particular, solo authors in the arts were the principal knowledge producers in the 1970s and have only experienced a slight relative decline since. Meanwhile, the dominant contribution of solo authors in the social sciences has ebbed with the emergence of principally small team size papers by the late 1990s. It is important to note that despite large shifts in the relative contribution of different team sizes to the aggregate body of knowledge, the absolute number of papers credited to all classes of author and country team sizes has actually increased over time. For example, whereas large author team output has grown from 667 to 87,525 papers between 1973 and 2009, single-authored works have also grown from 73,035 to 110,785 papers in the same time period. Similarly, notwithstanding contrasting trends in their relative publication output, large country teams and small country teams have increased publication production from 28 to 5507 papers and from 208,917 to 825,956 papers, respectively.
No MeSH data available.