To what extent do scientists at Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) collaborate? Using the Thompson Reuters Web of Science, I have constructed the CRI co-author network for 2008. As best I can determine, the Web of Science database contains 1271 papers from 2008 with CRI authors. In total, 4496 authors contributed to this set of papers — not all these authors are from CRIs of course, but they have all co-authored a paper with someone from a CRI. The network is shown on the left: the green dots are authors, with blue links between pairs of authors indicating co-authorship on at least one paper.
What surprises me is the extent of the largest set of authors that can be connected to each other by co-authorship. This largest connected component can be seen sitting in the centre of the 2008 network diagram, containing 2325 of the of the 4496 authors (52%). It contains authors from many of the CRIs (including me and a number of my colleagues at IRL) and from a number of Universities, both in New Zealand (including many from the the MacDiarmid Institute) and overseas. The next largest connected component contains only 31 authors.
If you look at the size of the largest connected component in the CRI co-author networks each year, 2008 is the largest. Just after the CRIs were established, in 1994, the largest component contained only 195 authors, occupying only 12% of the network. One reason for the growth of the largest component is that since 1994, the average number of co-authors each author has in a given year has risen from two to five. In other words, CRI scientists are collaborating more extensively in 2008 than they were in 1994.