Frequency and Structure of Long Distance Scholarly Collaborations in a Physics Community

L. Lorigo, F. Pellacini

Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), 2007


The authors present results from a real-world study depicting remote collaboration trends of a community of more than 87,000 scientists over 30 years. They utilize publication records of more than 200,000 scholarly journal articles, together with affiliations of the authors to infer distance collaborations. The longevity of their study is of interest because it covers several years before and after the birth of the Internet and computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) technologies. Thus, they provide one lens through which the impact of computer- assisted collaborative work technologies can be viewed. Their results show that there has been a steady and constant growth in the frequency of both interinstitute and cross-country collaborations in a particular physics domain, regardless of the introduction of these technologies. This suggests that we are witnessing an evolution, rather than a revolution, with respect to long-distance collaborative behavior. An interdisciplinary approach, combining numerical statistics, graph visualizations, and social network measurements, facilitates their remarks on the changes in the size and structure of these collaborations over this period of history.