The University co-author network

By Shaun Hendy 27/10/2009 5


Uni coauthor networkIn an earlier post I looked at the 2008 CRI co-author network. Now let’s turn to the University network. Using the Thomp­son Reuters Web of Sci­ence again, I found 5116 publications in 2008 with authors from New Zealand universities. In total 13930 authors contributed to these papers. The network is shown on the right.

Again, a remarkably large fraction of authors belong to the giant component. In the 2008 CRI co-author network, 2325 of the of the 4496 authors belonged to the largest connected component. Here, 9771 of the 13930 authors belong to the largest component — that’s a remarkable 70%.

We can make some other comparisons between the CRI  and the university networks. In the university network, on average each author has 8.4 collaborators; in the CRI network, each author has 5.1 collaborators. Apparently, university authors are more collaborative.

Degree distribution However, just comparing the average numbers of co-authors is misleading. I’ve graphed the distribution of co-author numbers for the universities and the CRIs on the left i.e. the proportion of authors with certain numbers of co-authors. From the graph it’s apparent that the difference between the university and CRI networks lie in the tails of the distributions. There are a number of university authors that participate in very large collaborations. For instance, there are a dozen or so authors in the network whose only published work in 2008 was one with 343 co-authors. Big science!

It is probably not surprising that university researchers are more likely than those in a CRI to participate in very large overseas collaborations. This skews the average number of co-authors for university researchers relative to CRI researchers, making the mean number of co-authors larger.


5 Responses to “The University co-author network”

  • I imagine the thematic dispositions of unis and CRIs plays a part at the larger scale: CRIs are designed to focus on NZ. But I still wonder how the nature of the competitive environment affects collaboration. I also wonder what happens when the number of co-authors exceeds 20.

  • Yes, understanding the impacts of competition on our innovation system is an important question – I will try to post some data on this in future posts.

    Articles with hundreds of authors are not something I’ve had much to do with, but I do see them fairly regularly in Phys Rev Letters from big particle physics collaborations. I think some of the genome projects can also lead to papers with very large numbers of authors.

    By the way, the sizes of the co-author networks don’t appear to scale.