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10 - Coauthorship Networks

from Part II - The Science of Collaboration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2021

Dashun Wang
Affiliation:
Northwestern University, Illinois
Albert-László Barabási
Affiliation:
Northeastern University, Boston
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Summary

To describe coauthorship networks, we begin with the Erdös number, which links mathematicians to their famously prolific colleague through the papers they have collaborated on. Coauthorship networks help us capture collaborative patterns and identify important features that characterize them. We can also use them to predict how many collaborators a scientist will have in the future based on her coauthorship history. We find that collaboration networks are scale-free, following a power-law distribution. As a consequence of the Matthew effect, frequent collaborators are more likely to collaborate, becoming hubs in their networks. We then explore the small-world phenomenon evidenced in coauthorship networks, which is sometimes referred to as “six degrees of separation.” To understand how a network’s small-worldliness impacts creativity and success, we look to teams of artists collaborating on Broadway musicals, finding that teams perform best when the network they inhabit is neither too big or too small. We end by discussing how connected components within networks provide evidence for the “invisible college.”

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The Science of Science , pp. 102 - 109
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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