What is it about?

Teamwork is common and important in modern scientific research. We have shown that collaborators of a scientist tend to be involved in very few topics in their collaboration. We also find productive scientists and impactful scientists behave very differently in involving collaborators in their topics. Productive scientists have higher fraction of single-topic collaborators, yet highly cited scientists have higher fraction of multi-topic collaborators.

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Why is it important?

Our findings can be useful for improving the organization of science. As multi-topic collaborations are associated with higher impact, proper re-organization of science in terms of encouraging multi-topic collaboration might be helpful for advancing science. In addition, the framework proposed in this paper can be easily extended to other systems with collaboration such as film actors, patent design, and software development.


I hope this work can inspire a new perspective for understanding individual scientists’ careers. In recent years, there are numerous works aiming to understand scientific careers. However, related analyses inevitably take into account coauthored papers in scientists’ career, causing the risk of regarding collaborators’ behaviour as the focal scientist’s behaviour. I hope that the method of decomposing publication time series developed in this paper may shed light on this challenging issue.

An Zeng

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Impactful scientists have higher tendency to involve collaborators in new topics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2207436119.
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