Dr Pietro Panzarasa, from Queen Mary, University of London
Title: Community structure and patterns of scientific collaboration in co-authorship networks: Evidence from Business and Management
Absract: In this talk I will investigate the role of homophily and focus constraint in shaping collaborative scientific research. On the one hand, homophily structures collaboration when scientists adhere to a norm of exclusivity in selecting similar partners at a higher rate than dissimilar ones. Two forms of homophily can underpin scientific collaboration: status-based homophily, when scientists preferentially select collaborators with whom they share the same status position, and research-based homophily, when scientists from the same research specialty are more likely to collaborate than scientists across different specialties. On the other, focus constraint shapes collaboration when connections among scientists depend on opportunities for social contact. Constraint comes in two forms, depending on whether it originates from the institutional or geographic space. Institutional constraint refers to the tendency of scientists to select collaborators within rather than across institutional boundaries, whereas geographic constraint implies that, when collaborations span different institutions, they are more likely to involve scientists that are geographically co-located than dispersed. To study homophily and focus constraint, I will argue in favour of an idea of collaboration that moves beyond formal co-authorship to include also other forms of informal intellectual exchange that do not translate into the publication of joint work. A community-detection algorithm for formalising this perspective will be proposed and applied to a co-authorship network based on papers published in Business and Management between 1996 and 2000. While results only partially support research-based homophily, they indicate that scientists use status positions for discriminating between potential partners by selecting collaborators from institutions with a rating similar to their own. Strong support is provided in favour of institutional and geographic constraints. Scientists tend to forge intra-institutional collaborations; yet, when they seek collaborators outside their own institutions, they tend to select those who are in geographic proximity. The implications of these findings for tie creation in joint scientific endeavours will be discussed.