Collaboration Diversity and Scientific Impact

Authors : Yuxiao Dong, Hao Ma, Jie Tang, Kuansan Wang

The shift from individual effort to collaborative output has benefited science, with scientific work pursued collaboratively having increasingly led to more highly impactful research than that pursued individually.

However, understanding of how the diversity of a collaborative team influences the production of knowledge and innovation is sorely lacking. Here, we study this question by breaking down the process of scientific collaboration of 32.9 million papers over the last five decades.

We find that the probability of producing a top-cited publication increases as a function of the diversity of a team of collaborators—namely, the distinct number of institutions represented by the team.

We discover striking phenomena where a smaller, yet more diverse team is more likely to generate highly innovative work than a relatively larger team within one institution.

We demonstrate that the synergy of collaboration diversity is universal across different generations, research fields, and tiers of institutions and individual authors.

Our findings suggest that collaboration diversity strongly and positively correlates with the production of scientific innovation, giving rise to the potential revolution of the policies used by funding agencies and authorities to fund research projects, and broadly the principles used to organize teams, organizations, and societies.


A Century of Science: Globalization of Scientific Collaborations, Citations, and Innovations

Authors : Yuxiao Dong, Hao Ma, Zhihong Shen, Kuansan Wang

Progress in science has advanced the development of human society across history, with dramatic revolutions shaped by information theory, genetic cloning, and artificial intelligence, among the many scientific achievements produced in the 20th century. However, the way that science advances itself is much less well-understood.

In this work, we study the evolution of scientific development over the past century by presenting an anatomy of 89 million digitalized papers published between 1900 and 2015.

We find that science has benefited from the shift from individual work to collaborative effort, with over 90% of the world-leading innovations generated by collaborations in this century, nearly four times higher than they were in the 1900s.

We discover that rather than the frequent myopic- and self-referencing that was common in the early 20th century, modern scientists instead tend to look for literature further back and farther around.

Finally, we also observe the globalization of scientific development from 1900 to 2015, including 25-fold and 7-fold increases in international collaborations and citations, respectively, as well as a dramatic decline in the dominant accumulation of citations by the US, the UK, and Germany, from 95% to 50% over the same period.

Our discoveries are meant to serve as a starter for exploring the visionary ways in which science has developed throughout the past century, generating insight into and an impact upon the current scientific innovations and funding policies.