The iCoNiC project investigates whether research disparities among EU countries, at a macro level, are accounted for by different rates of research productivity quality (citations) and distinct patterns of coauthorship, at a micro level. Namely, we are interested whether citation distributions are heavily affected, across countries and research fields, by the longitudinal change (dynamics) of individual coauthorship patterns. The topic is significant, as citations (which nowadays are essential for research evaluations) are determined not mainly by the personal merits of the researchers, but also by a great variety of factors. Among these factors, some studies also report coauthorship networks.
From a scientific point of view, our project is located at the core of a currently emerging cross-disciplinary research stream in the sociology of science: the application of sociological thinking and longitudinal network analysis to the study of research production systems. From a socioeconomic and cultural perspective, our project contributes to the European Research Area (ERA) efforts of designing and formulating science policies as to efficiently encourage transnational and cross-border cooperation, throughout Europe. In addition, our analysis is expected to increase the knowledge on the under-performance of the Eastern university researchers, in comparison to Western Europe ones. That might be a fruitful research effort as East European universities, as teaching and research oriented organizations, received marginal attention in the academic literature.
During the last decade, co-authorship in science has erupted in almost all the research fields. So far, little is known on how coauthorship networks affect the distribution of citations among researchers. The scant studies report contradictory empirical results. As an example, coauthorship is stressed by some scholars as a highly relevant predictor for citation accumulation (see Hâncean & Perc, 2016), while by others is shown to have only a marginal value.
In parallel, various social studies have investigated how researchers select their collaborators. Some reported empirical findings providing support for homophily (e.g. researchers tend to coauthor based on citation similarity) (see Hâncean & Perc, 2016). Others have presented evidence for asymmetric selection (i.e. the Matthew Effect, according to which less prestigious researchers tend to coauthor with highly cited others) (for a review, see: Perc, 2014). Still, there is a limited understanding on how these selection effects perform over time, during individual academic careers. Comparisons across research fields and countries from a longitudinal perspective are almost nonexistent.
The first research objective is to assess the extent to which coauthorship relations (structures) positively impact on the university researchers’ distributions of citations, in a longitudinal framework. Specifically, do the shape and the composition of coauthorship networks explain the variation of the citations that an individual researcher exhibits, during a particular period of time?
A second closely related research objective consists in investigating whether the shape and the composition of the coauthorship networks are research field specific and country-oriented. Namely, we are interested to analyze:
a) if coauthorship patterns significantly differ across research fields, due to research disciplines’ particularities;
b) whether there is a specific time development (structuring) of personal coauthorship networks due to research field particularities and to national (domestic) institutional arrangements;
c) whether researchers act strategically when decide to coauthor and how do they manage ethical challenges (e.g. honorary and ghost authorship, duplicate and redundant publications, conflict of interests, student exploitation, etc.).