Thursday, October 09, 2008

Group theory

I've got a feature in this week's Nature about using network science to work out what makes for a successful collaboration - mainly in terms of writing highly cited papers, but also more generally. It grew out of seeing Northwestern's Brian Uzzi (you can download his papers here) and Pietro Panzarasa of QMUL talk at NetSci 08 this June. (here's Panzarasa's abstract)

Here's the nub of the matter. I think you have to pay for the rest.

...the scholars who study the folkways of science have been tracking the decline of the single-author paper for decades now. And they have followed the parallel growth of 'invisible colleges' of researchers who are separated by geography yet united in interest. But what is new is how their studies have been turbo-charged by the availability of online databases containing millions of papers, as well as analytical tools from network science — the discipline that maps the structure and dynamics of all kinds of interlinked systems, from food webs to websites.

The result is a clearer picture of science's increasingly collaborative nature, and of the factors that determine a team's success. Funding agencies are not using this work to decide where the money goes — yet. But the researchers behind the analyses are willing to give tentative tips on what their work reveals. They also think that their studies point to rules of thumb that apply very broadly, whether you're looking for a gene or putting on a show.

One related thing I didn't mention in the piece, but is worth checking out, is the extremely cool Map of Science.

No comments: