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8 - The Increasing Dominance of Teams in Science

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

Here we discuss the growing dominance of teams in science. Importantly, this shift toward collaborative work is not unique to fields where experimental challenges are becoming more complex and expensive. Rather, we see a universal rise in team science even in “pencil and paper” disciplines like mathematics and sociology. We find that teams tend to produce more impactful science, garnering more citations than solo-authored work at all points in time and across all disciplines. What has driven the shift toward collaboration in science? The increasing complexity and expense of scientific experimentation forces communities to share resources and knowledge effectively. Additionally, the ever-broadening body of knowledge has made specialization necessary, which means that each person has command of a small piece of a larger puzzle. We also discuss what we call “the death of distance” created by advancing technologies, which has made collaboration easier both among institutions and across international borders. While the advantages of these types of collaboration are clear, there are some potential drawbacks which we detail here.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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