Research ArticleSCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING

Multinational teams and diseconomies of scale in collaborative research

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Science Advances  18 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1500211
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500211
  • Fig. 1 Demographic shifts in knowledge producers.

    (A) The ratio of countries per publication was averaged for each time period and research discipline. Data were further normalized to data from 1973 to show relative changes over time. (B) Proportion of publications produced by different team sizes stratified by number of authors or countries. Single, small, medium, and large teams denote one author or country, two to four authors or two countries, five to eight authors or three to four countries, and more than nine authors or five countries, respectively. (C) Fold change in publication number by different country team sizes over different decades relative to 1970s data.

  • Fig. 2 Increased citations are associated with multicountry collaborations.

    (A and B) The probability of not being cited is decreased in collaborative papers compared to singular-nation papers, and this was conserved across subject areas (A) and time (B). (C and D) The increased probability of being highly cited (being in the top percent of all articles published in a given year by citations) was also conserved across subject areas (C) and time (D). All data were found to be significant (P < 0.001) using the χ2 test. (E) The citation advantage ratio, defined as the mean citation of multinational papers divided by the mean citation of singular-nation papers, was calculated for the indicated years. Citations of multicountry and singular-nation papers were significantly different (P < 0.05) for all comparisons except for years 1973 and 1982 in the arts discipline. ns, not significant.

  • Fig. 3 Diseconomy of scale in citation benefits among papers produced by large teams.

    (A) Mean citations for different author team sizes. (B) The expected citation gain from additional authors or national affiliations was determined using a GLM of all publications (far left column) and the top 1 or 0.5% of papers (as indicated) after they were ranked by increasing author, country, or institute numbers. Regression coefficients were significant for all models (P < 0.01). (C) The citation benefit of additional national affiliations (top panel) and authors (bottom panel) was determined for specific team masses as defined by author and country counts, respectively. Lightly shaded areas surrounding lines depict 95% confidence intervals.

  • Fig. 4 Quantitative measures of multicountry collaborations and citations.

    (A and B) Journal impact factors correlate with average international (Intl) author counts (A) and international author team sizes (B). (C) Coefficients from regression analyses of author and country numbers of papers in the biomedical literature panel displayed in the top two rows demonstrate the conserved citation advantage of author and unique country numbers. The citation effects related to the number of international authors per paper and the average author team sizes of foreign authors are displayed in the indicated rows. Rows designated A display coefficients obtained from univariate models. Rows designated B and C display coefficients obtained from models adjusting for author and both author numbers and national affiliations, respectively. (D) Citation effects associated with different author positions occupied by foreign authors are displayed as indicated. Rows designated A and B display coefficients obtained from univariate analyses and adjusted models, respectively.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1/8/e1500211/DC1

    Fig. S1. Demographic shifts in team size of knowledge producers.

    Fig. S2. Recent changes in collaborative publication output across disciplines.

    Fig. S3. After controlling for author team size, publications with an increasing number of national affiliations are associated with increasing citations, except in papers authored by very large author team sizes.

    Fig. S4. The correlation between author count and citations diminishes for large teams across research disciplines.

    Fig. S5. Diseconomy of scale in citation benefits in recent years.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Fig. S1. Demographic shifts in team size of knowledge producers.
    • Fig. S2. Recent changes in collaborative publication output across disciplines.
    • Fig. S3. After controlling for author team size, publications with an increasing number of national affiliations are associated with increasing citations, except in papers authored by very large author team sizes.
    • Fig. S4. The correlation between author count and citations diminishes for large teams across research disciplines.
    • Fig. S5. Diseconomy of scale in citation benefits in recent years.

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