**preprint version**

May 2004


Network Structure, Self-Organization and the Growth of International Collaboration in Science



Caroline S. Wagner[*] and Loet Leydesdorff

Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)

University of Amsterdam



Using data from co-authorships at the international level in all fields of science in 1990 and 2000, and within six case studies at the sub-field level in 2000, different explanations for the growth of international collaboration in science and technology are explored.  We find that few of the explanations within the literature can be supported by a detailed review of the growth of international collaboration during the 1990s.  We hypothesize that growth may be due to recognition and rewards as ordering mechanisms within the system.  We apply new tools emerging from network science to test whether international collaborations can organize based on rules of recognition and reward.  These enquiries show that the growth of international co-authorships can be attributed to self-organizing phenomenon based on preferential attachment among collaborators at the sub-field level.  The co-authorship links can be considered as a complex network with sub-dynamics involving features of both competition and cooperation.  The analysis suggests that the growth of international collaboration during the 1990s has more likely emerged from dynamics at the sub-field level operating in all fields of science, albeit under institutional constraints.  Implications for the management of global scientific collaborations are explored.


Keyword: scientific collaboration; social network analysis; science policy; social systems; preferential attachment




[*] Correspondence to: C.S. Wagner, ASCoR, Kloveniersburgwal 48 Amsterdam 1012 DX Netherlands,